More than 1,500 passports replaced post-Dorian

More than 1,500 passports replaced post-Dorian

Henfield: No time for pity party, Bahamians must get to work

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – In a call of action to the Bahamian people, Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield said yesterday that now is the time for the community to step up and do its part in the post Dorian recovery effort.

It’s been over a month since the Category 5 storm devastated part of Grand Bahama and Abaco, leaving thousands misplaced and hundreds still missing.

Henfield, who opened debate on the Hurricane Dorian (Replacement of Government Issued Documents Exemption from Fees) Bill, 2019, said the Passport Office has already replaced 1,602 passports between September 3 and September 30.

Of that number 408 were from Grand Bahama and 1,122 were from Abaco and the Abaco Cays.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, North Abaco MP Darren Henfield speaks with Eyewitness News outside the House of Assembly. (file photo)

As he spoke about the recovery and restoration efforts on the storm ravaged islands, Henfield urged that

“As the government and NGOs from both domestic and foreign come to help us, we too must roll up our sleeves,” Henfield said.

“We must roll up our sleeves and put our shoulders to the wheel in the spirit of the pioneer and press forward.

“Yes, we have been broken down. Yes, we have suffered lots of loss. Yes, loved ones have gone tragically, but we are where we are in North Abaco and in Grand Bahama and we must face the reality of where we are.

“And that means we must play a part in the recovery of our islands and our homes.”

The foreign affairs minister said nearly eight weeks after the largest storm to hit the Northwest Bahamas, there’s “little time left to sit and lament over our circumstances”.

“There’s no time now for a pity party,” Henfield continued.

“It’s time now for us to get up, strap up our boots, and get to work.

“…The government will do its part, that’s what government are required to do. But we who are the community are also required to do our part.”

The bill provides for the exemption of payment of certain fees by any person who resided in any of the Hurricane Dorian ravaged areas to replace government issued documents that may have been damaged or lost as a result of the hurricane.

The act came into force on September 2 and will expire on March 2, 2020.

Henfield noted that the massive loss of documents also speaks to the lack of preparation before the storm. He pointed to the practice of keeping important documents in waterproof containers/Ziplock bags and keeping them in places that can readily be reached.

Henfield then recalled being in the eye the storm in the government complex in Abaco, when hundreds of people were forced out of their homes and had to seek shelter with only the clothes on their back. He noted that only those who fled the shelters had their valuables with them.

“The point I was making is many of us don’t take the steps we’re taught to take in the time of these events,” he added.

As he wrapped up his contribution, Henfield took the time to commend Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis for his leadership.

“Much is said about leadership, so before I take my seat, please indulge me to commend the prime minister publicly, for keeping a firm hand of the tiller as we treat with the impact of Dorian,” he said.

The exemption from fees bill, along with the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019.