Experts warn Category 5 hurricane surge would cover most of New Providence

Experts warn Category 5 hurricane surge would cover most of New Providence
Category 5 Storm Surge overlaid building footprints on New Providence. Pacific Disaster Center

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Seventy-percent of New Providence would be covered by storm surge flooding if a Category 5 hurricane were to hit the island,  Scott Kuykendall from Pacific Disaster Center revealed yesterday.

Kuykendall made the revelation during a presentation at the Bahamas Strong Alliance’s webinar series, commemorating the first anniversary of Hurricane Dorian.

Yesterday’s discussion focused on risks and preparation for major hurricanes in New Providence.

Kuykendall showed models for the landfall of Hurricanes Matthew and Dorian in The Bahamas.

He outlined what would happen if a Category 5 storm were to hit the country’s capital.

This model shows the potential storm surge inundation up to a Category 5 Hurricane. The white areas are the areas that potentially will not be affected. Pacific Disaster Center

He explained that based on the models, only a limited number of areas on New Providence would be spared from a storm surge.

“That’s pretty scary, that’s about 70 percent of the island,” he said.

He noted that PDC has been able to extract building footprints on New Providence and model a Category 5 storm surge on top of the island to estimate the possible impact.

“Needless to say a lot of those houses down in the red, that’s a problem for a Category 5 storm surge,” he said.

Southeast New Providence comprised a larger concentration of vulnerable homes, including Yamacraw Hill Road, Prince Charles, and Fox Hill.

“That is just the storm surge. You are still going to have your Category 5 winds, [and] you’re still going to have rain. So, we don’t model that on top of it. So, if you have a 10-foot storm surge and you’ve had eight inches of rain, and you have 150mph winds, you’re going to have bigger problems.”

Kuykendall noted the PDC could also determine the estimated population exposed to the storm, the potential humanitarian needs, and capital exposure using its All-hazard Impact Model (AIM).

“For storm surge alone on a Category 5, there would be approximately 117,000 people potentially affected,” he said.

Based on the models, the capital exposure — assets and infrastructure exposed to potential damage — could total $15.7 billion.

In order to respond to such a catastrophe, the country would have to be able to provide 245.4 million kcals (kilocalories) per day, 349,202 liters of water per day, 3,337 100-liter waste bins, and 402,926 square meters of shelter.

Kuykendall then presented a comparative model of the catastrophic/worst-case scenario simulating a direct impact on New Providence by Hurricane Dorian.

The potential population exposure of the storm would have been over 260,000 people and the potential capital exposure would have cost around $36.4 billion.

Catastrophic/worst-case scenario simulating direct impact to New Providence by Hurricane Dorian, final track.

Taking into consideration the possibilities if a storm were to hit, Kuykendall noted that mitigation efforts must be implemented.

These include early warning and action, continuity of government plans, ensuring multiple people are trained, and prepared for vital response, and more utilization of private sector recovery.

He said Family Islands and citizens need to be self-sufficient for at least 72-hours or more.

Additionally, logistics must be in place, to ensure resources are spread out and distribution can be conducted from other places than Nassau.

Dorian ravaged Abaco and parts of Grand Bahama for three days last year, between September 1-3, causing nearly $3.4 billion in damage and killing a confirmed 74 people.

The number of missing, which authorities reported as 279, remains an issue of contention.

The organization, which performs National Disaster preparedness Baseline Assessments, has conducted approximately 12 across the globe.

By the end of next year, the company is expected to have conducted assessments for around 20 percent of the world.

“We work with NEMA in each country and help them get into their plans, countrywide — exactly how they are standing, how they are ready for disasters and we look into socio-economic factors, hazards risks — not just are you going to get hit by a hurricane,” Kuykendall said.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.


Would love to see an analysis of tbe Abacos & Grand Bahama islands so we can prepare & know where to go/not go for future builds.

That information could be very beneficial to citizens, As it is only a matter of, when another catastrophe hurricane will hit our islands again. At minimum, our shelters should be strategically located in these areas. As the impact from another catastrophic hurricane looms over us annually, planning in this regard should be a joint effort by all stakeholders of the country as this particular issue is tied to the survival of our citizens on an annual basis. Also, as the threat of a major hurricane impacting our islands continues to increase year-over-year. The majority of our citizens will not have the resources to evacuate to another island or country and our government will not have the resources to evacuate a major island as the cost to do so on an ongoing basis would not be sustainable. We should the be focusing our efforts on sustainable and achievable options at this time as a nation and not look solely to our government for a solution as this issue impacts us or, legal or illegal residents.

Where to find a clear image of the map, those in the article are not clear. Also, I notice they didn’t mention tornado’s at all. Along with all the other factors, it was the tornados that helped smashed the place to bit.

Where to find a clear image of the map, those in the article are not clear. Also, I notice they didn’t mention tornado’s at all. Along with all the other factors, it was the tornados that helped smashed the place to bits.

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