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Ragged Is. residents to be moved
  • Damage to the Duncan Town All Age School on Ragged Island which occurred during the passage of Hurricane Irma. Photos: TORRELL GLINTON

  • Many homes in Ragged Island were left in ruins following the passage of Hurricane Irma.

  • The foundation is all that remains of this structure in Duncan Town, Ragged Island.

  • The Ragged Island airport was decimated during the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Sep 12, 2017

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Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis declared yesterday that the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma on tiny Ragged Island has rendered it uninhabitable and urged the remaining 18 residents to evacuate as early as today.

“They cannot stay here,” said Minnis at the Ragged Island airport.

“The health conditions and the safety will continue to deteriorate over the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Twenty-one people were evacuated ahead of Hurricane Irma.

A plane will fly into Ragged Island at 1 p.m. tomorrow to collect the remaining residents, Minnis said.

The prime minister walked the length of the community, speaking with the remaining residents and asking them to evacuate.

Many huddled listening to Minnis; some sat on downed lampposts, the power lines strewn across the road.

“We have spoken to residents and they feel that they need at least 24 hours to get their belongings together, so we will have a flight here on Wednesday at least by 1 p.m. to bring them to New Providence,” Minnis said.

“Some may choose to move to Exuma where they have family.”

Minnis, members of his Cabinet, members of the opposition, officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the media visited Ragged Island, Acklins and Crooked Island yesterday.

Ragged Island, which is only nine square miles, has only one settlement, Duncan Town.

When members of the prime minister’s group moved throughout the island, they were shocked. Many exclaimed that it was the worst disaster they had ever seen.

No home was left untouched by the Category 5 hurricane.

Many of the homes had no roof, windows or doors. Other homes were destroyed, with only rubble remaining on the foundation.

Most, if not all, of the power lines were down. The roof of the clinic, school and administrator’s office were gone.

Minnis told The Nassau Guardian that he has “never seen anything like this before”.

“Ragged Island has been devastated,” he said. “Every home has been destroyed.

“The health facility has been destroyed. The school has been destroyed.

“The teacher's residence has been destroyed. There is no light, no water.

“As you walk about you can smell the stench of dead animals.

“The health conditions of the individuals will deteriorate and it is essential that we get them off this island.

“We will have the defense force dispatch a vessel here and they will try to commence some cleaning up and at the same time ensure that there [is] security in place.”

Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper said the conditions on Ragged Island are “unhealthy and unsafe” and urged residents to “take the prime minister's lead on this”.

Residents who spoke to reporters yesterday said they have reservations about leaving.

Minnis said all 18 residents indicated that they have family on New Providence or Exuma, so they will have places to stay.

Last night, attorney Wayne Munroe, who was born on Ragged Island, said Ragged Islanders — those who live on that island and those who live in New Providence and other places — would not allow their home to be depopulated permanently.

Munroe met last night with residents from Ragged Island who evacuated ahead of the storm, as well as with Bahamians with Ragged Island roots who are concerned about the future of the island.

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