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Breaking News:

Ravaged

Irma smashes Ragged Island
  • Damage to a home on Ragged Island caused by Hurricane Irma.

  • A teacher's residence on Ragged Island lies in ruins after being destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

  • Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper said yesterday the destruction on Ragged Island is “heartbreaking”.

  • Damage to a home on Exuma.

TRAVIS CARTWRIGHT-CARROLL
Guardian Senior Reporter
travis@nasguard.com

Published: Sep 11, 2017

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With communications cut off and strong winds causing a post-storm assessment flight to be postponed yesterday, the pictures that emerged from tiny Ragged Island and Salina Point, Acklins, provided clear evidence of communities ravaged by Hurricane Irma.

But most of The Bahamas escaped without any significant damage from the storm.

Irma moved into Bahamian waters as a Category 5 hurricane on Thursday, hitting Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.

The storm also affected the northern island of Bimini.

Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper said yesterday the destruction on Ragged Island is “heartbreaking”.

“When we look at the images it tells a tale of massive devastation,” Cooper said.

“These pictures show only the heart of town. I do see a few residences also destroyed.

“If I were to use my imagination as to the rest of the island, given that the school, the administration building, the clinic and the Ponderosa are fairly sturdy buildings, relatively speaking, this is mind-blowing.”

The images show the roof of the all-age school in Duncan Town gone.

The roofs of the administration building and the clinic are also badly damaged.

A pile of wooden planks is all that remains of the teacher’s residence, Cooper said.

“The water plant is significantly damaged,” he said.

“The top floor of a local establishment called the Ponderosa, which is a motel, is also completely gone.”

Cooper said the residents who heeded Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ call to evacuate ahead of Irma made the right decision.

“Given the magnitude of the devastation and the reports so far, it appears that the warnings and the evacuations were in order, and this is going to be a real challenge rebuilding Ragged Island moving forward,” he said.

Cooper said he intends to travel to Ragged Island today to deliver supplies and conduct his own assessment.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had intended to visit Ragged Island and other islands impacted by the hurricane, but tropical storm force winds forced them to postpone the trip to today.

The media were also unable to get to Ragged Island and had to depend on images that were circulating on social media.

While those images got out of Ragged Island, The Nassau Guardian was unable to reach anyone on the ground who stayed behind after others were evacuated.

Ragged Island has a population of around 70 people. Officials said 21 remained on the island.

Nassau resident Amanda Curling, whose younger sister, Latoya Curling, and two brothers rode out Irma on Ragged Island, said she had many sleepless nights worrying about her siblings.

“We spoke with her, and she’s surviving,” Amanda Curling told The Nassau Guardian last night.

“They have a roof over their heads. She said they have a lot of water. They are surviving. I don’t think she regrets it. She said she was going to thug it out and she wasn’t leaving.”

Curling said when she saw the images of Ragged Island, she cried.

“I didn’t expect it to be that bad,” she said.

During a press conference on Saturday, NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell said Ragged Island appears to have suffered the worst of Irma.

“There was quite a bit of structural and infrastructure damage,” he said.

“I’m sure the infrastructure and household structure and government buildings were severely impacted. So that may take a bit more time to try and get them back to their island.”

 

Mixed report

Regarding Acklins, Russell said the community of Salina Point appears to have been hit hard.

“From what I’ve gathered, the roadway into Salina Point, at least two miles of it, is blocked,” he said.

“Some huge rocks were deposited from the sea and have blocked the roadway for almost two miles.

“That community was severely impacted. It almost got a direct hit.”

Russell said that everyone was evacuated from Salina Point ahead of the storm.

Inagua Administrator Julita Ingraham said the island was spared any major damage from Irma.

She said, based on reports, there is minor roof damage to some homes and government buildings.

She said the 250 people who stayed behind are in good condition.

Ingraham said police and defense force officers were clearing debris from the airport runway and the roads. At last report the island was without power and water.

“God has really been good to Inagua,” she said.

Mayaguana Island Administrator Earl Campbell said there was no major damage on the island. He said the seven people on the island, three police officers and four residents, were doing well.

Crooked Island Administrator Leonard Dames said there was minimal damage on the island.

He said 107 people stayed behind to ride out the storm, and they were in good condition.

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