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Some evacuees enjoying time at shelter

  • Acklins Island evacuee Pamela Martin sits with four of her kids inside the New Providence Community Centre (NPCC) yesterday. Martin said she and her family are very comfortable staying at the shelter until the government decides to return them home. photos: AHVIA J. CAMPBELL

  • Salina Point, Acklins resident Shamika Farrington and her daughter C’ira at the New Providence Community Centre.

  • Disabled Acklins Island resident Veronica Lightbourne said she is comfortable staying at the NPCC hurricane shelter.

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Sep 13, 2017

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Some Family Island residents who were evacuated prior to the passage of Hurricane Irma have found conditions at a major shelter in New Providence to be a welcome change of pace.

Several evacuees at the New Providence Community Centre (NPCC) told The Nassau Guardian yesterday they have “enjoyed” their time at the shelter.

However, there are those who, despite the convenience, can’t wait to get back to their normal lives.

Pamela Martin, 32, a mother of six, said her time at NPCC since last Wednesday has been a bit of a mini vacation for her and her children.

Martin said, at the shelter, her family has had access to amenities it does not back home in Acklins.

“It’s very good, I enjoy it, because where we are home, we don’t really have this kind of entertainment and I know the children love it and I love it too,” she said.

“[What] else could you ask for?

“You have a shelter where you could be in AC, you could be in [electricity] and I don’t have it home, so I really appreciate it very much.

“I don’t have none of them. I don’t have water. I don’t have [electricity].

“It was hard for me all around because I have six children and it’s very hard with me, so I’m enjoying this little vacation to the fullest.”

Martin said when her grandmother died, she left a home for Martin and her children to live in, but she has barely been making ends meet.

She said she sometimes fishes or farms and does other odd end jobs in order to keep her family fed.

“We asked for help from Social Services over a couple of months but no one has helped us yet,” she said.

“The house that we were in, it really isn’t in a good condition and then I have a little boy who is sick.”

Martin said her son has asthma and has recently had a brush with death.

“I almost lost him,” she said.

Martin said she now sees Hurricane Irma as a blessing in disguise for her family.

“I really appreciate it,” she said.

Erinique Walkine, 29, a resident of Colonel Hill, Crooked Island, shared similar sentiments about her stay at the shelter.

“I didn’t feel so bad about it, because at the end of the day, AC blowing, hot showers and power never turned off,” said the mother of five.

“Some people on the island in darkness.

“I am so glad I came off the island because mosquitoes would have been eating us to death and when it ain’t mosquitoes, it’s sun flies.

“And my kids came here and got to interact with other children.”

Walkine said she received minor damage to her roof in Crooked Island and is thankful that unlike some people on the other islands, her four walls are still standing.

However, all of the evacuees do not share this same sentiment.

Acklins resident, Shamika Farrington, 27, said though she is very appreciative of the support the shelter has given to her family, she wants nothing more but to be back at home in Salina Point.

“I appreciate it and everything but it’s too much rules,” said the mother of three.

“I want to be home. I want to be free.”

Farrington said after hearing about the devastation to her settlement, she is now unsure about her family’s future.

“I felt bad,” she said.

“Me, for one, my house was under water, so everything I have in my house got wet up.”

She said she is not looking forward to what she will find when she returns home.

However, she noted that the best part about being at the shelter is that her children do not seem to be impacted by what is going on.

“They look happy to me,” she said.

“They aren’t bothered. They are having fun.”

Despite this she is just ready to be back home with privacy, her own space, and her own rules.

Zell Pinder, 59, a resident of Abraham’s Bay, Mayaguana, said she has mixed feelings about her stay at the shelter.

“In a way I’m ready [to leave] and in a way I’m not,” said the mother of two.

“I’m just enjoying it in here.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a shelter and I’m enjoying it, but I also hope it is the last time.”

When asked what about the experience she has enjoyed Pinder said, “The staff is very nice, they give you three meals a day.

“Coming down here [Nassau], you always have to find your new stuff and this time I don’t have to. I’m just laying down, relaxing and enjoying it as it comes to me.”

Pinder said her home back in Mayaguana did not sustain any major damage and she looks forward to returning.

Theresa Lewis, 50, a resident of Inagua, said at no time did she feel uncomfortable at the shelter, noting that she felt safe.

“Everything was good, the people were sociable,” she said.

“It feel like I was home.”

Lewis noted, however, that if she had a choice, she would be back in her own home.

NPCC Center Director and Shelter Manager Uriel Adderley said the shelter initially had 153 residents from across the southern Bahamas, but 20 have already returned home to begin hurricane cleanup efforts.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) will return residents to Inagua and Crooked Island today.

More than 1,000 people were evacuated to New Providence from Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Inagua, Long Cay, Ragged Island and Bimini.

Following an assessment of the southern islands, Ragged Island, has been deemed unlivable and Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has urged the 18 remaining residents on the island to evacuate.



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