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PM makes pledge to Ragged Island

Minnis says storm-torn island will be transformed
  • Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis delivers his contribution inside the House of Assembly yesterday. AHVIA J. CAMPBELL

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

Published: Sep 14, 2017

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Amid concerns by some Ragged Island residents that the government wants them to “abandon” their island, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis promised yesterday that the island will be rebuilt and transformed, and revealed that the government intends to turn the small island into the first fully green island in the region.

“I assure the wonderful people of Ragged Island, that their island will be rebuilt,” Minnis said during a communication to the House of Assembly on the state of The Bahamas following the passage of Hurricane Irma.

“In partnership with the residents of Ragged Island, my government proposes to transform Ragged Island into the first fully green island in the region, utilizing renewable energy and smart technologies from solar energy to sustainable water purification systems.

“Out of the devastation and the destruction, a new Ragged Island will emerge, including stronger building codes, improved zoning, and strategies to mitigate against climate change and rising sea levels.

“Ragged Island can emerge as a new model for sustainable communities throughout The Bahamas and the region. We will work with private institutions, international agencies and foreign partners to create at Ragged Island a more sustainable island community.

“We know by faith and the experience of history that out of tragedy can often come new life. Despair can be transformed into hope.”

Ragged Island was devastated after Hurricane Irma hit it last week.

The government school, clinic, administration complex, and several private businesses and homes either suffered major damage or were destroyed.

Snapped utility poles are strewn across the roads, as is debris from homes that were toppled over.

Minnis has urged the remaining 18 residents on the island to evacuate as the government restores essential services to the island.

“There is little to no doubt that the evacuation from Ragged Island saved lives,” he said.

“Had the evacuation not occurred we could have lost a generation of Ragged Islanders.”

Minnis said yesterday that 40 people left the island ahead of Irma.

However, many residents and those with roots on Ragged Island said they will not abandon the island.

“We aren’t going anywhere,” said Amanda Curling, whose family is from the island.

Minnis said yesterday that he is “pleased that Ragged Islanders throughout The Bahamas have come forward to offer their assistance for recovery and rebuilding”.

“The government will evacuate the remaining residents from Ragged Island by Friday of this week,” he said.

“Those who evacuated previously will have the opportunity to briefly return in order to retrieve any valuables and other items not destroyed by the hurricane.

“An environmental health team will be sent in to dispose of dead animals and to engage in a major clean-up of Ragged Island.

“Only then can additional recovery efforts begin.”

Minnis, members of his Cabinet, senior government officials and members of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) saw firsthand on Monday the destruction on the island.

“Every member of the assessment team I led to Ragged Island was in disbelief at the scale of the damage,” Minnis said.

“One veteran civil servant who visited our islands after various hurricanes, including in 1992, after Hurricane Andrew, expressed that this is the worst destruction he has seen in The Bahamas after a major hurricane.

“This is the first time in the modern history of The Bahamas that an entire island has witnessed the wholesale destruction of its infrastructure, both public and private.”

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