Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, September 22, 2019…. Just over two weeks have passed since Hurricane Dorian, the second strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic and the strongest hurricane ever recorded in The Bahamas, impacted Grand Bahama Island.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is the Bahamian government agency coordinating the relief and recovery response. The first phase of the emergency management response centered on immediate activities such as search and rescue, rapid damage and needs assessments, and the provision of first aid. A critical partner in this effort was the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to partner with NEMA at the request of The Bahamas Government.
The next phase is focused on restoring basic services and lifelines, even on a temporary basis. This includes restoring the road network and other essential facilities including bridges, airports, ports and helicopter landing sites. The final phase is directed towards reconstruction. During this stage the focus will be on rebuilding infrastructure on the island and restoring the livelihoods of the local residents.
Residents on Grand Bahama Island have embraced the challenges that lie ahead in a spirit of resilience and strength. The Grand Bahama Port Authority is leading the clean up efforts, working in conjunction with the Grand Bahama Power Company and Grand Bahama Utilities as power and water are gradually being restored to businesses and residential communities.
The Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, an important facility for major cruise lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, has resumed normal dry dock operations.
Moreover, with full power and freshwater available, hundreds of workers are being fed each day at the cafeteria. The scheduled arrival of Carnival Ecstasy on October 5 is on track; the Carnival cruise ships will begin a dry dock upgrade which should be completed by October 16. In total, the shipyard has 29 dry dockings for the remainder of the year, which is good news for the Grand Bahama Island economy; the shipyard employs more than 600 people on the island.
Solar panels are being set up around the island, to enable people to power their homes and mobile devices, connect with families and register for aid. Several humanitarian organizations have stepped in to assist with the relief effort, shipping and distributing much needed supplies to residents, churches and relief centers across the island. At the request of the World Health Organization and the Bahamas government, Samaritan’s Purse deployed its Emergency Field Hospital to provide life-saving care by it teams of doctors and nurses. The 40-bed mobile hospital has the capacity to serve up to 100 patients per day with an emergency room, intensive care unit, obstetrics ward and an operating room for up to 10 surgeries per day.
The Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board continues to monitor the on-island situation, with particular reference to the tourism sector. A recent meeting with stakeholders provided the following property updates:
Ports of Entry
o Grand Bahama Airport – Terminals are not operational, runways are accessible for relief/emergency flights, Domestic Commercial Flights are available via Bahamasair, Western Air and Flamingo Air
o Freeport Harbour is operational – Balearia Caribbean is sailing, see baleariacaribbean.com for schedule, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is operating relief cruises only, see bahamasparadisecruise.com for updates,
o The Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach hotel will reopen on November 1st, with more than 50% of newly renovated rooms and will be the first hotel to resume normal operations. Old Bahama Bay Resort and Marina will reopen on November 1st
o Lighthouse Pointe. Grand Lucayan and Pelican Bay Hotels are closed to the general public as they are housing relief workers and displaced families
o Bell Channel Inn, Castaways Resort & Suites, Coral Beach, Dolphin Cove, Mayfield Beach, Ocean Reef Resort, Royal Islander are all open for business
o Flamingo Bay Hotel and Marina sustained some damages; however, will reopen on October 10
Island Seas/Island Palm Resorts, Taino Beach Resorts, Freeport Resort & Clubs, Sunrise Resort are currently conducting assessments and will provide updates by September 30
On Island Transportation & Places
o H. Forbes Charter Services, S & D Coach Tours, Taxi Services, Hertz, Avis and other rental car services are available
o The Fish Fry at Smith’s Point, Out Da Sea Bar & Grill, Flying Fish Gastro Bar, The Stoned Crab Restaurant, Sabor, Upstairs Restaurant at Bell Channel are all operational
o UNEXSO and the Dolphin Experience, Bahamas Adventures, Pirates Cove Zipline & Waterpark, Tony Macaroni Conch Experience (limited schedule) are all operational
o Pier One Restaurant minimal damages, opening scheduled for November 1
o Garden of the Groves and Grand Bahama Nature Tours suffered damages and are estimated to reopen in mid-December
o Port Lucaya Marketplace is carrying out assessments and will provide an update by September 30
For more information, and to assist with the recovery and reconstruction process on Grand Bahama Island, please visit the following sites: https://www.gbdisasterrelief.org/; https://rotary6990.org/; and https://www.bahamas.com/relief .