Hurricane Matthew, a strong Category Four hurricane, passed through the Bahamas leaving its marking on every island in the archipelago but only seriously impacting New Providence, North Andros and Grand Bahama.
As Matthew moved through the chain of islands his course steered more and more westward taking Abaco further out of the range of intense winds, rain and storm surge. In the end Abaco emerged relatively unscathed with negligible flooding and mostly cosmetic damage to trees.
Senior Island Administrator Charles Moss said that the Abaco Disaster Preparedness Committee met several times prior to the arrival of the storm, which included heads or representatives of public and private service entities, and a group of persons assembled at the Government Complex during the storm as the Emergency Operations Center keeping in touch with communities across the island and the various shelters.
He said that Simmons Heavy Equipment and Construction Company assisted before the storm dropping off four loads of sand in several communities (for sandbags) and after the storm with cleanup. Ministry of Works assisted in ensuring that Central Abaco Primary School (the main shelter) was secured and generator operational.
Mr. Moss also expressed appreciation to Albury’s Ferry for lifting fees for transporting items to assist persons who were preparing for the storm.
Coordinators from the Abaco Disaster Preparedness Committee, led by Mr. Moss and Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Officer in Charger Hilton Cash, toured the island from end to end on October 7 to assess the impact of Hurricane Matthew in Abaco and found the majority of the island intact.
Mr. Moss said “to our surprise there was little damage across the island.” He said that there were a few places were shingles came off and he counted no more than five down or leaning utility poles.
He said that the only major damage he recorded was in Crown Haven where the public dock was a bit battered and missing a few planks, but stood firm, while a local fishing boat sunk nearby.
He said that while it took some time to hear from some communities like Moore’s island and Grand Cay they have reported in and there is no significant damage in these areas.
Green Turtle Cay, Guana Cay, Man-O-War and Hope Town all reported likewise that there were no serious damages; and although there were some initial concerns with the dunes in Hope Town the roads in those areas remained safely passable.
Some government facilities and schools saw some minor damage to roofs, losing a few shingles here or there and drip eaves peeled off, but there were no damages across the island that would prevent any from reopening.
Leonard M Thompson International Airport saw some flooding on the tarmac during the storm but by the time the airport reopened on Saturday the majority of the water had already dissipated. Treasure Cay Airport received slight cosmetic damage and no flooding and was ready to resume normal operation right away.
Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) experienced outages in many parts of the island with some lines down, trees in the lines, damaged transformers, and a few broken poles. However, the majority of restoration was completed by Saturday night including Grand Cay and Moore’s Island. No official statement was available up to press time.
Bahamas Telecommunications Company also set about restoring communications across the island as some areas were affected by downed lines and other challenges.
Water and Sewerage Corporation reported that aside from one challenge in the Wood Cay area water supply remained available throughout the storm.
All schools in Abaco reopened on Tuesday while all businesses and hotels un-shuttered and carried on business as usual immediately following the storm while crews cleaned up minor foliage debris on properties and along roadsides.
Abaco, often a target for hurricanes and tropical storms, was spared the worst of Hurricane Matthew and while we can breathe a sigh of relief here, we are poised and ready – as many have already begun – to start helping our countrymen in Nassau, North Andros and Freeport as they begin the long journey of recovery from this devastating storm.
Mr. Moss said he is asking the public to contact him concerning donations to assist the hard hit communities of North Andros as he is concerned that their needs may get overshadowed by Nassau and Grand Bahama.