Vast majority of residents in The Mudd, Pigeon Peas have status, Ingraham says
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said today that notwithstanding the 50 people confirmed dead to date by authorities in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, based on his understanding hundreds were killed in Abaco alone as a result of the catastrophic storm.
“It is my opinion, the opinion of Hubert Alexander Ingraham, based upon information I have; based on my knowledge and what not, etc. that hundreds of people have died,” the former member of Parliament for North Abaco said. “I pay no attention to 50. I said I pay no attention to it. I speak for myself on the hundreds. I do not make wild statements. I do not make uninformed statements.”
While the confirmed number of dead stands at 50, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said that figure is expected to rise significantly. Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands has also said the final death toll will be “staggering”.
During a joint press conference with former Prime Minister Perry Christie at Odyssey Aviation following a tour of Abaco, Ingraham was asked if The Bahamas was facing an unprecedent chapter in its history with thousands displaced and a rising death toll.
“We have not had devastation of this size before. Abaco has a significant population, so does Grand Bahama. We are not accustomed to having substantial deaths during hurricanes in The Bahamas. They have generally speaking been very low numbers; single digit at most. Whereas in this case, hundreds of people have died in Abaco and significant numbers in Grand Bahama.”
Ingraham also asserted that there is a grave misconception that majority of the dead are undocumented migrants.
“One of the points about Abaco; the criticism I’ve heard is that many of the persons who died are Haitian nationals,” Ingraham said. “Many of them are of Haitian descent, who are Bahamian citizens or who are lawful residents. That’s another point I want to make; don’t buy into the story that the shantytown of The Mudd and Pigeon was illegal immigrants. The vast majority of residents there were lawful residents of The Bahamas — either lawful residents as a result of being citizens or as a result of having legal status in The Bahamas.
“And so, having taken that into account, the reality is that if they had been spoken to in a language — I am told, from the criticisms that they better understand Creole; that more of them may well have sought shelter from the places that they were in, in the shantytown. That is one of the things that some people have said that did not happen, that ought to have happened, apart from the fact that some of those who did not have status would have been fearful about going in and would have needed to be assured by people that they would be safe from arrest and what not etc.
“But the vast majority of the residents in The Mudd and Pigeon Pea had legal status in The Bahamas.”
Both former prime ministers said they were deeply grieved over the loss of life and the “horrific circumstances” residents have been left in.