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Evacuees learn of loss as they wait to return home

  • Don Cunningham reads his Bible yesterday while at the New Providence Community Church, which is being used as a shelter for evacuees. Photos: TORRELL GLINTON

  • Clementina Lightbourne speaks with members of the media about her stay at the New Providence Community Church yesterday.

  • Kareem Deleveaux from Salina Point, Acklins reads a book while at the New Providence Community Church yesterday.

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Sep 11, 2017

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Some Acklins evacuees waiting to be returned home are uneasy over what they will meet, as reports have come in about considerable damage in some areas, like Salina Point.

Others said they will not worry, but will simply return and rebuild.

Many of the evacuees are being housed at New Providence Community Church (NPCC) on Blake Road.

Don Dexter Cunningham, a 60-year-old farmer from Salina Point, said he lost his whole farm.

“I had just about everything, like plantains, bananas, sugar bananas and other things. I had more stuff than I had last year,” Cunningham told The Nassau Guardian.

“I got [wiped] out the last time (during Hurricane Matthew).

“But they say my farm is wiped out now. I worked hard on that, but you see, we [have] to remember that what we have in mind in this world to do, God has something else in mind.

“If He can destroy [my farm], He can give me something better.

“That can be rebuilt, but my life cannot.”

Cunningham said the only reason he left Acklins was because God directed him to. Otherwise, he would have stayed in his home, which he said is now flooded.

He thanked God for sparing his life.

“Quite frankly, I did not really want to leave my house,” Cunningham said.

“I endured every other one in there, but at the last minute I was waiting to get a sign from God.

“When the time came, the spirit told me to pack my clothes like it always does.

“So I packed my clothes. I listened, and minutes later, someone knocked on my door to tell me that we had to go.”

Despite his loss, Cunningham said, “I am not concerned about the worldy things.

“These people here are more important.”

Another Acklins resident, Kareem Deleveaux, was also evacuated along with his family.

Deleveaux, who is also at the Blake Road shelter, said his home has not yet been repaired since Hurricane Joaquin in 2015.

He said the previous government promised to assist but never did.

Yesterday, he said he knew that he will return home to a disaster.

Deleveaux said “it hurts”, especially since he has not fully recovered from “the last disaster”.

“I saw photos,” Deleveaux said. “It’s a total disaster. I have to go back home and go through what I did with Joaquin.

“I heard that there is a lot of water in my house.”

He said, “I’m sure of it. My house needed to [be repaired] from [Joaquin].

“A couple of my windows got [blown] out.

“Social services were supposed to help, but they never helped.

“There are no windows in the house. It’s been like that for a while.”

Clementina Lightbourne, also from Salina Point, found out yesterday that her house had up to six feet of water inside.

She said she will not worry.

“I [heard] it has water four to six feet high,” Lightbourne said.

“I would like to go back to go see my home, if I can.”

She said, “I didn’t have time to secure my things before we evacuated, but I think my family will help me with my house.”

Uriel Adderley, director at NPCC, said the shelter has made provisions to keep the evacuees for up to another six days.

He has asked for volunteers and donations to assist with the 153 people who are being housed there.

Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Captain Stephen Russell has advised that all residents from the southern Bahamas who were evacuated by the government ahead of Hurricane Irma will be returned to their islands at the expense of the government.

He said an announcement will be made as early as today when those evacuees can return home.




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