LaRoda informs House Members of efforts to address Exuma flooding

(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Myles LaRoda, Monday applauded the efforts of disaster risk managers and emergency response personnel on the ground in Exuma in the wake of the severe flooding that has impacted parts of the mainland.

Mr. LaRoda provided an update to House Members with regards to the local and national efforts to address the flooding. Areas impacted included Rolleville, Farmer’s Hill, the Forest, Barraterre, East Exuma, George Town and Roker’s Point.

State-Minister LaRoda, who is responsible for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response among his other duties, said the action taken by Disaster Risk Managers and Emergency Response personnel in Exuma highlighted a key component of the country’s Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Strategy which plans for island-communities across The Bahamas to have the capability to effectively respond to disasters, emergencies and/or Severe Weather Events until help can arrive from outside of those communities.

Some of the actions undertaken included the opening of shelters, conducting initial damage assessments, and creating run-offs for the standing floodwater in order to mitigate some of the short, medium and/or long-term negative impacts floods can have on lives, properties, infrastructure and businesses.

Personnel from the Ministry of Public Works, the Department of Local Government and the Water and Sewerage Corporation, collaborated to determine the swiftest and safest ways to reduce water levels in order to avoid some of the potential hazards associated with floodwater – a priority. Their actions included using heavy equipment to create drain-offs for the floodwater to the ocean.

Exuma’s Swift Water Rescue Team was placed on Alert in the event they were needed to conduct water rescues. Additionally, the island’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was activated to effectively manage the situation from ground level, coordinating efforts with various agencies, including the National Emergency Management Agency.

“Madame Speaker, one major aspect of the country’s Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Strategy is to ensure that island communities across The Bahamas are able to mobilize and assist themselves in the event of a disaster or emergency until help from the outside can arrive. This is exactly what occurred in Exuma,” the State-Minister said.

(Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Philip E. Davis, K.C., toured the affected areas along with senior government officials.)

Officials at the Bahamas Department of Meteorology, reported that rainfall amounts of 8.92 inches were recorded in Exuma on Wednesday, June 7, with an additional 2.73 inches recorded on Thursday, June 8. It is estimated that an additional 12 inches of rainfall occurred in Exuma over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday period. Long Island recorded 1.10 inches of rainfall on Wednesday June 7, 4.90 inches on Thursday June 8, and an estimated 6 inches (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

The trough responsible for the heavy rainfall over the past five days was forecasted to continue to linger over The Bahamas until Tuesday (June 13), before moving away from The Bahamas by Wednesday June 14.

State-Minister LaRoda told Parliament that Damage Assessment Teams and Emergency Response personnel from New Providence — including personnel from the Ministry of Works, Water and Sewerage, Social Services and the Ministry of Health — were dispatched to Exuma to assist with the local efforts. They have been tasked with conducting further assessments, providing the necessary aid, and initiating relief measures where necessary.

With regards to the National Response, Mr. LaRoda said the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), after contacting officials from the Ministry of Works and Utilities, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, and the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) was able to facilitate the delivery of the following:

* Heavy duty pump from the WSC.

* 300 feet of hose for pump – MWU.

* Two (2) heavy duty pumps from Bahamas Striping

The following were made available from NEMA’s Coral Harbour


* Two pallets of tarps of various sizes to assist where necessary.

* Four (4) dewatering pumps and hoses.

* Six (6) Chemical backpacks – for mosquito spraying.

* Two, 10 KW portable generators and fuel containers.

All items noted above were delivered to HMBS Lawrence Major for transport to Exuma.

Mr. LaRoda took the opportunity to “once again” caution citizens and residents who haven’t already done so, to take actionin order to be better prepared for all Severe Weather Events.

“Disasters can occur at any time. Knowing your risks and vulnerabilities can help to save lives. Ensure that you understand how to interpret forecasts and alerts, and know what to do before, during, and after,” he cautioned.

“Create emergency plans for your families. These plans should include evacuation plans, especially for persons residing in coastal, low-lying, and/or flood-prone areas. Know the location of shelters and the best, quickest and safest routes to get to them. Replenish your stock of emergency supplies, and take the necessary measures to protect property and possessions.

“Additionally, remain attentive to all Advisories and Warnings issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology. We need to make ourselves ready to the best of our individual and collective abilities. The impact of our collective preparation efforts increases our capacity to quickly recover in the aftermath of a Severe Weather Event,” State-Minister LaRoda added.