NASSAU – Scores of Bahamians from the southern islands have begun arriving in the capital, Nassau as they heed a desperate call from Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis to flee their homes as an ominous Hurricane Irma makes a trek towards The Bahamas.
In a national address yesterday evening, Minnis warned his countrymen they were facing death or serious physical harm from the Category 5 system, as he announced an unprecedented emergency evacuation from Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay (MICAL) and Ragged Island.
“We are advising in the strongest possible terms that the residents of MICAL and Ragged Island comply with the evacuation from their respective islands,” he said.
“Let me be very clear: those who refuse to evacuate place themselves in potentially great danger from this monster hurricane, including from dangerously strong and high storm surges, which is one of the greatest threats from a hurricane. Do not put your life and those of your loved ones at unnecessary risk. Do not be foolish and try to brave out this monster storm. The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life or serious physical harm.”
The Prime Minister stressed that the order was imperative since emergency personnel and assistance would be unavailable during the immediate impact of the hurricane for those who opt to stay behind in MICAL and Ragged Island.
The evacuations, which involved flights via Bahamas Air, Pineapple Air and Sky Bahamas, are scheduled to end this evening.
Head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Captain Stephen Russell disclosed that some 900 residents would be affected by the evacuation order.
He said residents who chose to remain on the island would have to make the best use of the shelters there, but he strongly urged the residents get out.
“I would urge people to come out and not take a chance and risk their lives. Homes and furniture and appliances we can replace. There is no way in the world you can replace your life,” he warned.
Russell also disclosed that Government was keeping a close eye on Andros and Bimini and, if necessary, evacuations orders would be issued for those two islands as well.
Forecasters say Irma will be near the southeastern Bahamas tomorrow.