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More than 100 people displaced by tornadoes

  • A tornado touched down in Grand Bahama on Sunday. Twenty-eight homes were either damaged or destroyed, as well as an apartment complex. This is one of the homes that was damaged by the tornado.

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Sep 12, 2017

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Almost 100 residents were impacted by the tornado that touched down in Grand Bahama on Sunday, said Tammi Mitchell, deputy co-chair of the disaster committee and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) warehouse manager in Grand Bahama.

Mitchell said 28 homes, that housed a total of 79 people, were either damaged or destroyed by the tornado, along with an apartment complex that had six units which housed 16 people.

“The damage was extensive,” Mitchell said.

“So, right now most of those families are staying with other family and they are just going through the process for any assistance that they would need.

“Some of them were really shaken up.

“They are pretty much just trying to cope.”

Mitchell said Social Services is also working with these people to assist them with their needs.

Among other buildings damaged were those that house Colina Insurance, Star General, Imperial Garden Complex and a lodge hall.

A tornado also touched down in Bimini on Sunday.

Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, who spoke yesterday at a live briefing in Grand Bahama on the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, said, “You would have heard that Bimini, in particular, in our neck of the woods, would have suffered some significant damage.

“I am told that the docks there have suffered significant damage as well as some of the infrastructure.

“Power is obviously going to be a challenge for a couple of days.

“Fortunately, I think most of the residents and residences there have withstood with damage to various degrees.

“But, again, let us be mindful of our fellow citizens over in Bimini and the needs they may have in the short term.”

Mitchell said NEMA still has to do an official assessment in Bimini but photos sent from the island also show extensive damage to some residences.

In a statement on Sunday, NEMA pointed to vivid images of the tornado and its destructive path, which flooded social media, “confirming predictions during the passage of Hurricane Irma through the northwestern island”.

NEMA said photos were sent from its office in Grand Bahama to NEMA’s headquarters in New Providence.

When asked yesterday whether a warning was issued on time, Deputy Director of the Department of Meteorology Basil Dean said, “I can’t speak to that just now, other than, I would have to speak to my forecasters who were on duty at the time, to find out exactly when they first noticed anything that could have suggested tornados may be taking place.”

Dean added, “We take full responsibility knowing the nature of tornados, knowing how quickly they develop, knowing how devastating they can be and knowing the fact that you have little or no time to get those kind of warnings out.

“If I were to tell you just now that a tornado is going to touch down in seven minutes, tell me what would be your course of action.

“It’s just one of those things in nature that we have to live with.”

The government is continuing its assessment of the different islands, of damage sustained during Irma’s passing.

Though the majority of the country was spared by the storm, Ragged Island and Acklins sustained significant damage.


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