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Reluctant to return

Acklins evacuees unsure of conditions at home; minister says Salina Point is livable
  • Evacuees from Acklins staying at the New Providence Community Centre gather their belongs as they prepare to leave the facility. The Salina Point residents have been residing at the community center since being evacuated from the island last week due to the threat of Hurricane Irma. Photo: Ahvia J. Campbell

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Sep 16, 2017

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Tempers flared at the New Providence Community Centre (NPCC) on Blake Road yesterday after evacuees from the southern islands were told that they only had one day left at the shelter and would either have to return home or be relocated to another shelter.

The majority of those left at the shelter were from Salina Point, Acklins, which many believe is not yet habitable.

NPCC Director and Shelter Manager Uriel Adderley told The Guardian, “We have made a commitment to social services and NEMA to hold them for an additional week after the hurricane.

“So once the hurricane passed, our commitment was up until tomorrow, that’s their final day.

“They gave us the commitment that they will either move them back to their island or their residence and if that’s difficult, then they would find alternative accommodations.”

Adderly said there were still about 88 evacuees at the shelter yesterday.

He said he could not say what will happen to the evacuees once they leave the NPCC.

“We will continue to provide service,” he said.

“We don’t want to just cut them off.

“Wherever they go, if they need assistance and we have the goods that are coming in [we will provide it].”

Around 12 p.m. at the shelter, National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) Director Captain Stephen Russell attempted to address the residents on what will happen to them and shouts erupted from around the room.

One shouted, “We ain’t ga move today. If they have to put us out the facility, we are prepared to line the road out there. But we ain’t doing that today.

“If we have to vacate the shelter, we will vacate the shelter.”

Another screamed, “We will be the biggest, craziest, foolish people in the world to go back and kill [ourselves] with the sickness. That can’t happen. No, no, no.”

Another said, “Salina Point was under water where feces and stool was flowing through people’s homes. No [sanitation] was taken place.”

Lashawn Rose, 26, said Salina Point residents don’t want to leave because “there’s nothing to go back home to”.

“We didn’t have a clinic [up and running] with equipment to save none of these children, medication never there,” Rose said.

“We need doctors there first. The place needs to sterilize.

“...We refuse to go and live any other place in Acklins but our home.

“All we asking them for is get it livable first and we will be proud to be back home.

“But the way it is now, we have people calling us now telling us, no, y’all bring them children, I sorry for y’all because we know y’all don’t have the money to spend to get air ambulance and bring them back Nassau.

“It’s hard.”

Kathrina Rose, 29, another Salina Point resident, said she feels as if they have nowhere to go.

“It’s sort of depressing because we know what condition we are in now but we don’t know the condition that we are going into,” said the mother of three.

“It could be better but we sure of what we in now.

“The children are very comfortable, so it’s very depressing that we have to leave and I wish we could stay.

“Home is no option right now because the settlement where we are from, most of us have kids and like me, I have three kids, two of which are asthma patients and that’s no environment for them and there are many other kids.

“It’s no environment for them, not right now.”

Rose said she was very saddened to hear the news of what happened to her home settlement.

“I don’t know what to say,” she said.

“It’s very uncomfortable because we knew what we left, we have an idea of what we are going back to based on pictures we have seen, but to go back there with kids, we cannot.”

Rose said she has been told that the sea level in her home went above the bed.

She said everything she owned is gone, including clothing and furniture.

“The sea had it’s own way with our houses,” she said.

“We can not go back to that condition, especially with kids.”

Sharing similar sentiments, Indera Anderson, 23, said though she wants to return home, she does not want to endanger her children.

“I feel a little upset but I really want to go back home, but right now the place is not in order for you to return with children,” said the mother of three.

“It’s upsetting right now because ain’t no place for us to go, if it’s not [another] living accommodation.

“My baby, he is six and he have asthma.”

Anderson said she feels like they are now in a position where they know they can’t stay at the shelter, but they can’t go home either.

She said she feels down and out.

When asked if she has family members she can stay with, Anderson said the majority of her family is staying in the shelter with her, including her two sisters and their children, as well as their disabled mother.

Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday all residents of Salina Point will be returned home by this morning.

“We have an arrangement with all of the evacuees at the shelter that they will leave tomorrow morning, to return to Acklins,” he told The Guardian.

“They will be staying in their homes.

“Most of them are from Salina Point.

“There is running water and electricity is on in the community.

“We have a cleanup team that has actually been cleaning up the community for the last three days, just to ensure there are no hazards for the children.

“There are about three homes that were destroyed and all three of the owners of those homes have alternate arrangements with friends and relatives in Salina Point.”






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