Since the passage of Hurricane Dorian, the residents of Abaco have been living life in slow motion. Even in the middle of a global pandemic filled with economic uncertainty. Even as we ride out yet another hurricane season with limited resources in place, Abaconians face another real threat. Over the past three months, work at the major hurricane dumpsites in Abaco (Spring City and Treasure Cay) has come to a crawl and almost to a complete stop.
In the aftermath of the storm, the temporary sites were busy daily with dump trucks and heavy-duty equipment. Hundreds of workers collected and sorted debris from across the storm-ravaged island and cays as part of the recovery efforts. Now, the level of work at the sites is considerably less and over the past two weeks, workers have been laid off. What remains is an eyesore and an environmental hazard in the making.
Clean up efforts on Abaco not only serve as a sign of hope for residents but it also provides much- needed employment. Our fear is that, as with most things in this country, what began as a temporary solution will become a permanent problem for Abaconians.
The site in Spring City is particularly concerning. It is located directly opposite a residential community and poses an immediate threat to the health of residents. There are real concerns of the water table being impacted by hazardous materials stored for extended periods at the site. Loose debris is also a fire hazard on an island where there are limited resources to assist residents in the event of a fire. Highly flammable materials just steps away from a residential community could prove dangerous and deadly on an island still reeling from so much loss.
Restoration efforts must consider, first and foremost, the welfare and wellbeing of the people of Abaco. We are calling on the government and specifically Mr. Iram Lewis, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management, and Reconstruction, and Mr. Darren Henfield, MP for North Andros to explain the full plan to complete the clean-up and dumpsite work that it has started here on Abaco. In particular, the mounds of debris in Spring City needs to be recycled and moved as a matter of urgency.
A Concerned Abaconian
Spring City, Abaco
October 18, 2020