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Breaking News:

Most of Bahamas escaped Irma

  • Minor flooding and rough seas occurred on the eastern end of New Providence yesterday due to heavy winds and rain caused by Hurricane Irma. PhOTOS: AHVIA J. CAMPBELL

  • Minor flooding on New Providence yesterday due to heavy winds and rain from Hurricane Irma.

  • Rough seas off New Providence yesterday.

Guardian Staff Reporters
jayme@nasguard.com & sloan@nasguard.com

Published: Sep 11, 2017

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Residents across The Bahamas are breathing a sigh of relief following the passage of Hurricane Irma, which killed at least 24 people across the Caribbean, but left The Bahamas relatively unscathed, according to initial reports.

Police Superintendent James Moss, a resident of Inagua in the southern Bahamas, said though Irma battered the island with howling winds and heavy rain, residents count themselves among the lucky.

“We thought it would have been worse,” he said.

“Between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. [Friday] morning, it was quite an experience to hear the winds bustling against the house and the seas and the rain; it was quite an experience. It was my first time with an experience of that magnitude with the gale force winds.”

As terrifying as it was to hear those howling winds, Irma was not as monstrous as Moss and other residents expected.

“I think we were very, very lucky… God answered our prayers,” he said.

Chief Meteorological Officer Geoffrey Greene said on Friday the eye of Irma passed almost directly over Inagua as a powerful Category 4 storm, packing winds of up to 155 mph. The majority of residents on Inagua were evacuated ahead of the storm.

Residents of Mayaguana, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Ragged Island and Bimini were also evacuated.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director Stephen Russell said the damage in the southeastern Bahamas was expected to be catastrophic.

Moss, who carried out assessments on the island with Defence Force Lieutenant Elizabeth Simms, said a number of homes near Inagua’s coastline sustained roof damage.

“We’ve cleared Gregory Street, which is the main thoroughfare in Inagua as far as the lighthouse, through to the airport,” Moss said. “The strip has been checked. There is no debris

“The clinic here has some roof damage. The Inagua All Age School has roof damage to the administrative block and to their classrooms.”

He said there were no reports of injuries or loss of life.

Simms shared similar sentiments.

“[We’re breathing] a sigh of relief,” she said.

“It was said that Irma would be a lot worse, but Inagua fared well. We only have minimal roof damage.”

She added that there are about 20 downed utility poles and power lines.

“But nothing major, and most importantly, no lives were lost,” Simms said.

Alecia Ferguson, a mother of two young girls, was in Farmer’s Hill, Exuma.

She told The Nassau Guardian that the island experienced heavy winds, but not much rain.

A major concern Ferguson had was the possibility of flooding. She and many others experienced flooding during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

“Last year was extremely bad,” Ferguson said.

“[I had] some damage to my home, especially the roof.

“The Forest settlement was flooded for a few days, and we weren’t able to get out, but the community came together and made side roads so that we could get out.

“Phone lines were down and electricity was off for over a week.”

She said most people across the island made the necessary preparations for Irma.

“Exumians did not take this storm for granted,” she said.

“Everyone battened up for the storm.”

San Salvador resident Enrica Bodie, 24, said, like Exuma, the island only experienced heavy winds and slight rain.

“People here were kind of afraid,” Bodie said.

“But I mean, nothing big has happened here at all.

“I guess we were spared.

“People were prepared though. People were ready.”

Crooked Island Administrator Leonard Dames reported that there was some roofing and building damage to the island’s high school, and some shingles were missing off some homes in Colonel Hill and Cabbage Hill.

“The airport is clear,” he said.

“Whatever debris was on the airport road has been moved, so the airport is operational. Landrail Point, that’s from one end of the island to in the middle, the roads are passable.

“So far the damage is minimal.”

Yesterday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and officials of the National Emergency Management Agency were scheduled to travel to the southeastern Bahamas to conduct assessments.

However, due to strong winds, the trip was postponed to today.

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