NEMA issues all clear as storm conditions lashed northwest Bahamas

NEMA issues all clear as storm conditions lashed northwest Bahamas
A home in Arden Forest, Grand Bahama flooded during Hurricane Isaias.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Despite the “all clear” given for all of The Bahamas around 9am, residents on Grand Bahama, Bimini and the Berry islands were still experiencing thunderstorms, heavy rain, and strong winds as Isaias made its way out of The Bahamas.

Shortly after the announcement by the National Emergency Management Agency, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness advised that an “all clear” couldn’t be given for those islands due to ongoing adverse weather conditions.

In its latest update, the National Hurricane Center advised that the storm, which weakened to a Tropical Storm yesterday, was strengthening slightly while moving north-westward off the east-central Florida Coast.

Tawanna McIntosh, 26, a resident of Grand Bahama had to leave her home that flooded during the passing of Hurricane Isaias.

Tawanna McIntosh, 26, said she and her family had to leave their home in Arden Forest around 9am when water started coming inside from through the door and from underneath the floors.

McIntosh said it began raining sparingly just after 10pm on Saturday, and the rain started pouring down around 1am today.

She said her mother woke her up around 6am to find that the whole house was surrounded by water.

At that point, McIntosh said they started mopping the water off the porch and using buckets to throw it outside in attempts to protect inside the house.

“We then realized in the kitchen the water started coming from under the tiles,” McIntosh said.

“…We tried our best but after a while, we realized it wasn’t making any sense.”

She said they spent over an hour trying to stop the water but “nothing was changing”.

The inside of McIntosh’s kitchen, as water started coming up through tiles from underneath the house.

Eventually, they decided to block the doors with heavy-duty furniture, including items recently bought to replace things lost in Hurricane Dorian last September.

“We still couldn’t do a lot because we were just trying to get out of there.”

She said her mother, still traumatized and fearful by the horror of Hurricane Dorian last year, did not wait to evacuate. She said she quickly packed up her things and left.

McIntosh said their family home had been completely covered underwater during the monstrous Category 5 storm last year.

She said even though her family decided to stay by a neighbor, whose house was elevated on a hill, the group of four had to be rescued by defense force officers in the middle of the storm.

During Dorian, McIntosh said water started coming into the neighbor’s home, forcing them to leave and walk through water until officers picked them up in a fire truck.

McIntosh said the water was so high that the fire truck stalled out and they had to wait for a tractor to come and rescue them and take them to the Our Lucaya hotel for shelter.

“That really was a really horrible experience,” she said.

On Friday, Lewis warned residents in several areas of Grand Bahama to evacuate due to storm surges associated with Hurricane Isaias.

Those areas include McClean’s Town, Sweeting’s Cay, High Rick, Dover Sound, Barbary Coast, Lucayan Glen, Forest Green, The Harbour Area, Airport Zone, East Airport Zone, Queen’s Cove, Lucayan Estate, The Heavy Industrial Area, the Coastal areas of William’s Town, Russell’s Town, Pinder’s Point, Bay Shore Road, Eight Mile Rick; those on Rolle’s Avenue and Quacko Street Holme’s Rock; Deadman’s Reef, Bootle Bay and the entire community of West End.

Tony Grant told Eyewitness News that the area he lived in near Lucaya had been significantly flooded.

Smith’s Point, Midshipman, and Taino Beach areas also reportedly experienced major flooding.

Grant said by the time the “all clear” was given there was still a lot of rain and wind gusts.

He said those conditions had begun to improve by midday; however, they had not fully dissipated and his family did not feel safe enough to leave the house to ensure the property had been secured.

“Everybody is still a bit traumatized from Dorian, people don’t realize it until you’re stuck here and can’t go anywhere because of the pandemic.”

Grant said after Dorian, his family decided that regardless of the category storm, they would not stay on the island.

However, due to the border closures amidst the increase in coronavirus cases on the island, that was no longer an option.

“We weren’t able to leave, we weren’t able to escape and we prepared as best as we could to deal with this storm,” Grant said.

He said now that the storm was marginally over, there was a sense of relief and gratefulness that there was no reported loss of life and no major damage to properties – as far as he can tell.

“But the trauma is still there. We can’t deny that people here are very traumatized whether they want to accept it or not.

“…We deal with it the best way we can.”

Grant insisted that the island was not prepared given the little notice in time, the economic challenges the island is facing, and the fact that many residents on the island are still repairing and rebuilding their homes from Dorian.

He said while there is hope that the rest of the hurricane season will go without incident, there is still concern and paranoia for the rest of the season.

West Grand Bahama and Bimini MP Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe advised earlier today that the power was still off in West Grand Bahama. She said the Eight Mile Rock High School shelter had closed while Central Zion still had about 10 persons at the shelter.

Parker-Edgecombe said cleanup had already started in the area and there had been no major flooding.

As for Bimini, she noted that while rain and strong winds were reported by residents on the island, there was no damage to any home, and shelters were not utilized as expected.

Veteran Meteorologist Wayne Neely took to his social media to express his disagreement with the announcement of the “all clear”, insisting that officials should have waited several more hours before making the announcement.

“In my professional opinion, the “all clear” should have not been issued when they did because part of that storm conditions were still over the island of Grand Bahama,” Neely wrote.

“It was issued at 9 am which when I looked at the conditions attached to the storm, Freeport was still experiencing the southern end of the storm and many persons called me from Freeport stating they were experiencing thunderstorms and strong gusty winds.

“Take a look at the satellite imagery at 10:36 am and in my humble opinion, they should have waited for another three hours to allow that storm and its accompanying weather associated with it and its southern fringes to clear Grand Bahama.”