NEMA Director orders activation of shelters in GB, Bimini

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Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Captain Stephen Russell, Wednesday, ordered the activation of shelters in Grand Bahama and Bimini as a precautionary measure against potential impacts from Tropical Storm-Force conditions associated with Hurricane Ian.

Six shelters were activated in Grand Bahama (two in Freeport, two in Eight-Mile Rock, and one each in Pinedale, Seagrape and Holmes’ Rock) and one in Bimini (Gateway in Bailey Town) at 10am. Captain Russell also announced that Floodwater Rescue Teams have been pre-positioned in West End and Alice Town as yet another precautionary measure.

The National Emergency Management Agency’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) remained on Partial Activation Wednesday and will remain Activated throughout the response phase. Teams from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Local Government, have been in communication with Island Administrators, Local Government officials and Disaster Consultative Committees in the north-western Bahamas.

During Partial Activation, certain NEOC Team Members (known as Emergency Support Functions) are activated to monitor certain risks and/or hazards in areas that could be impacted by weather conditions associated with the passage of a storm, and as a means of communicating with/supporting disaster managers and planners and disaster consultative committees on the ground in those areas.

The NEOC is responsible for executing emergency management and ensuring the continuity of operations for the entire country.

Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Warning remained in effect for the north-western Bahamas as at 12noon Wednesday with residents of Grand Bahama and the Biminis being advised to prepare for the possibility of sustained Tropical Storm-Force winds tonight through Thursday. Residents in the remainder of the northwest Bahamas, including Abaco, the Berry Islands, North Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera, could experience winds gusting to gale-force during this period.

(A Tropical Storm Warning means that Tropical Storm conditions could be experienced in the mentioned islands within 36 hours.) 

Forecasters at The Bahamas Department of Meteorology said rainbands associated with Hurricane Ian, will continue to affect the islands of the northwest Bahamas today and Thursday. Residents in these islands are asked to exercise extreme caution as the rainbands will bring severe thunderstorms, gusty winds and possible tornadic activity.

Total rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches are expected with isolated amounts of up to 8 inches through Friday. As a result, severe, localized flooding is possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas.

Residents of low-lying, flood-prone areas of the north-western Bahamas, are asked to take special precautions during any heavy and/or prolonged rainfall event, and to exercise extreme caution in the event there is flooding. One such precautionary measure is to avoid driving in or through floodwater, where possible, or playing in floodwater (children) as floodwater can contain numerous hidden hazards. These include:

  • Downed power lines.
  • Sewage and other contaminants.
  • Large Holes.
  • Sharp objects that can cause injury and lead to infections.
  • Objects such as lumber, vehicles, debris.
  • Carcasses of dead animals, in addition to rodents and snakes.

Exposure to contaminated floodwater can result in:

  • Wound infections.
  • Skin rash.
  • Gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • Tetanus (Lock-jaw).

If you do come into contact with floodwater, you are advised to:

  • Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you do not have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizers.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with floodwater or sewage water in hot water and detergent before re-using them.

If you must enter floodwater, protect yourselves by wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles. The same goes for Standing Water.

The National Emergency Management Agency reminds residents to pay close attention to the Alerts, NEWS ITEMS, Public Forecasts, Severe Weather Warnings and/or Special Weather Statements issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.