NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday defended the conditions of shelters in New Providence, telling reporters he could “very easily” sleep there.
Minnis was asked to respond to reports of poor conditions at the five government-run shelters that house hundreds of Dorian evacuees at the Kendal G.L. Issacs Gymnasium, three surrounding tents, and the Bahamas Academy Gymnasium.
“I have visited those shelters, and believe me, I can sleep very easily in those shelters,” said Minnis, during a press conference on Hurricane Dorian relief and recovery efforts.
“The food is good as far as I’m concerned. So I don’t know what their complaints are.”
Dorian displaced thousands as it ripped through parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
At least 346 people are missing, according to the National Emergency Management Agency in a recent situation report.
The Category 5 storm decimated two of the largest shantytowns on Abaco, The Mudd and Peas, where the majority of the respondents to the government’s 2018 survey were self-reportedly undocumented Haitian migrants.
Videos obtained by Buzzfeed News, showed families at the Kendal Isaacs gym cramped in scores of cots and mattresses.
Their belongings could be seen stacked close to their bedsides, bordering walkways.
One video shows a bathroom, shower facility and changing area.
Inside the shower are six stalls – many of which had dirt stained tiles and floors wet and mucky from constant use.
Other videos show the bathroom in different states. Dug up floors and broken tiles can be seen along the bathroom where four urinals sit – two of which have wooden boards covering them and another with two orange safety cones blocking it.
The video goes on to show one of the four bathroom stalls, where the toilet can be seen teetering on broken tiles.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Mass Care and Shelter Services Summary Report, dated November 1, there are currently 761 Dorian evacuees staying in the Kendal G.L. Issacs Gymnasium, three surrounding tents, and the Bahamas Academy Gymnasium.
The report noted that there is a leak at the Kendall Issacs gym but that the matter was being addressed.
It also pointed to issues at the Bahamas Academy gym, where two of the four shower stalls in both the men and women’s bathroom are not working.
However, one Bahamian activist and promoter Frankie Fleuridor, defended conditions at the Kendal Isaacs shelter.
“These folks are getting treat so good at the Kendal Issac gym,” said Fleuridor, who claimed he recently visited the gym.
“You have defense force security twenty four hours a day, three meals a day, nice atmosphere, clean place. Come on guys stop spreading negative things man.
“The Bahamas [has] really been good to Haitian migrants.”
Fleuridor, who noted both of his parents are Haitians but he was born in The Bahamas, continued: “These folks look nowhere how they look when they came from Abaco. These folks looks so good. They getting a lot of help…Everybody got mattresses to lay down on until further notice.”
According to a NEMA situation report, social services provides food items and Bahamas Feeding Network cooks the breakfast.
The World Central Kitchen covers lunch and dinner.
The report notes that over 2,400 meals are being served daily in the shelters in New Providence.
Asked yesterday when those shelters are expected to be closed, Minnis said: “As soon as we can provide the proper accommodations, the domes within the Abaco area, Grand Bahama area, you’ll find that those shelters will be mobilized, returned back to their respective places.”
However, the prime minister also noted there will be “no illegals” allowed in the government’s temporary relief facilities.