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Breaking News:

Ragged Islanders still refuse to leave island

  • Stephen Russell.

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Sep 15, 2017

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National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director Captain Stephen Russell said yesterday he believes the Ragged Islanders who refuse to leave the island following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma have yet to accept their loss.

Russell said most of the remaining residents refused twice to board a plane that was sent to bring them to New Providence, as they have things that are currently “holding them back”.

“We are looking to the source of their challenges and how we can help them,” Russell said when contacted for comment.

“I think once we provide them with some assistance in a particular area they will be free to come or more receptive to come in.

“So we are exploring that option as well.

“We are also exploring the option of, persons who were evacuated and who have not seen their properties since, to take them back for a full day and then let them come back.

“They are the things we are exploring. We will make an announcement hopefully by [Friday].”

Russell said some of the residents are refusing to leave behind fish and other seafood they plan to sell.

In one instance, Russell said a man had over 500 pounds of crawfish on ice, which valued half of his annual earnings.

Other residents had similar issues and need assistance bringing the products over to sell.

Russell said he thinks Ragged Islanders have still not come to terms with the destruction on their island.

“They still have that attachment,” he said.

“They still need to accept the loss.

“People here in New Providence who are from Ragged Island, we need to get them back to physically see their structures, and hopefully they can accept it and decide to move on until the action plan for restoring Ragged Island happens.”

NEMA hopes to take those on New Providence back to Ragged Island between today and Sunday.

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

There is no electricity or water on the island.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has urged the remaining residents on the island to evacuate until essential services are restored.

“There is little to no doubt that the evacuation from Ragged Island saved lives,” he said in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.

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

Minnis said 40 people left the island ahead of Irma.

Russell said about 17 people are currently on the island.

Residents who are on the island and those with roots on Ragged Island said they will not abandon it.

Between 60 and 70 people were reportedly living on the island ahead of Hurricane Irma.

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