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Breaking News:

Cooper satisfied with PM’s plans for Ragged Island

  • The foundation is all that remains of this home in Duncan Town, Ragged Island following the passage of Hurricane Irma. TORRELL GLINTON

  • Chester Cooper.

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Sep 15, 2017

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Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper is encouraged by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ pronouncement that the government will rebuild Ragged Island and will not force residents of the island to leave their homes, despite the current unlivable conditions.

The government deemed Ragged Island uninhabitable in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Speaking to the concerns of some residents that the government wants them to abandon their island, Minnis told the media following a tour of Inagua and Mayaguana on Wednesday that The Bahamas is a democracy, and “individuals have choices”.

“We would advise what we think is best,” said Minnis, who again spoke to reporters about the state of Ragged Island, while he was at Lynden Pindling International Airport.

“When they do the assessment, [residents will] recognize we are advising them to do the right thing.

“It is very difficult to remain in an environment that is filled with dead carcasses and stench.

“And it is only a matter of time before the mosquitoes start, and there is very little utility facilities.

“I think the residents will do what is best. We want the best for them.

“I think it gives us a greater opportunity to create a new, modern society, which will be a model, not only for The Bahamas, but for the world.”

Cooper, who accompanied the prime minister, members of the Cabinet and National Emergency Management Agency officials to the two southern islands, said the refusal of some Ragged Islanders to leave comes as no surprise.

The base of the community makes a living fishing.

Cooper said this is “the place they love and what they know”.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Minnis promised that Ragged Island will be transformed.

He said the government intends to turn the island into the first fully green island in the region.

Cooper said he was satisfied with the government’s response.

He expects the “resilient and entrepreneurial spirit” of Ragged Islanders to thrive.

“I’m pleased with the response to the extent that it has mobilized the residents of Ragged Island and the descendants of Ragged Island to come together to build a new Ragged Island,” Cooper said.

“This is important for me as the member of Parliament.

“It is important for the residents and descendants of Ragged Island.

“We are going to build a new Duncan Town, better, greener, stronger than before.

“I was pleased with the prime minister’s communication.

“I believe it dispels the notion the government was encouraging an abandonment of Ragged Island.

“I believe the concern for safety and health is foremost in my mind, as it is in the mind of the prime minister.

“But I believe that is a temporary transition, making sure that the initial preparation is made for the full rebound of Ragged Island.

“I will stay in touch with the people of Ragged Island long after the cameras have gone off the scene to ensure the orderly redevelopment of Ragged Island.”

The island was hit hard by Hurricane Irma last week.

Most structures were severely damaged or turned to rubble.

Approximately 40 residents were evacuated ahead of the storm, while 18 remained.

Their stories were harrowing.

Some evacuees have already returned to the island, determined to make do with what is there.

However, power and running water are nonexistent.

The government intends to return these essential services.



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