NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Simeon Hall yesterday said the handling of the burial of Hurricane Dorian victims has left a “blemish on the spirit of our nation” notwithstanding the intention of authorities.
“Whatever the intentions of the authorities were the perception remains that the handling of the burial of those 55 bodies in Abaco this past Friday was not handled in the leaving the mourners resolved that ‘my country has a heart, soul or spirit’.
“Why were not 10 family members allowed to attend the funeral regardless [of] where they lived in The Bahamas?
“Is it true that families flew into the funeral?
“Is it true that families living in Abaco could not go near the casket and they were left at a distance.
“What validity must there be that Bahamians not on the island of Abaco or those who place could not go near a casket on the island for that occasion?
“What [about] Bahamians far removed from Abaco and they hear anecdotal accounts of bodies that were on the trailer that were lost, found, then were lost again. What kind of nonsense is this?
“Did the resignation of the former minister of health, Mr. Duane Sands, exacerbate this debacle in Abaco? This is a national issue and ought not to be seen through the jaundice eyes of politics. We stand with those who mourn.”
He added: “This is a blemish on the spirit of our nation and 50 spirits will run through this nation until they are; or their families deserve is bequeath to them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
On Friday, the remains of 55 victims were buried in the Central Pines Public Cemetery in numbered sealed coffins amid staunch protest of approximately 30 people over how the government has managed the process.
Central and South Abaco MP James already has called for a formal inquiry into the “process and timeliness” of the burial of those buried on Saturday to bring closure to Abaconians and guide future mass-casualty events.
In a letter to the prime minister, Albury wrote: “Though some in Abaco feel a sense of relief and closure that the victims’ bodies have now been laid to rest, as we approach another hurricane season, there are many who still remain unsure of the location and fate of their loved ones.”
During a virtual press conference Sunday, Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) Vice Chairman Algernon Cargil said the requirements of the emergency COVID-19 order did not allow for all all believed relatives to be invited.
He said notwithstanding the challenges associated with social distancing and other considerations, the service was befitting and dignified.
On its Facebook page, the DRA also reposted a statement purportedly written by Vaughn O Jones, director of the funeral home Vaughn O Jones Memorial Center, which applauded the authority, government and Christian Council for what it said was the dignified conduct of the burial.
“Each individual [was] placed in a sealer casket and a concrete vaulted grave,” Jones purportedly wrote.
“I recall in recent times that the way victims of the coronavirus were buried in New York in mass graves.
“It was disappointing to me to see how they were disposed in the big USA.
“But, were are in the Bahamas complaining on the way Dorian victims were buried.”
Jones empathized with victims’ families; some of whom he said were close, noting that he will continue to pray for their healing.
However, the funeral director implored the public to “maintain the dignity of the service conducted and allow all deceased persons to rest in peace”.
Yesterday, Hall said too often national events are polarized and politicized, though he did not expounded of whom or what he was referring to.
“The major strides made by the founding fathers are being diminished, retarded and subjugated by many Bahamians, more loyal to their political parties than they are to the noble national interest and being patriotic,” Hall said.