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Cooper touts new disaster management bill

Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper yesterday called the Minnis administration’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian an “unmitigated disaster” and touted the Davis administration’s new Disaster Risk Management Bill, 2022.

The bill will establish the Disaster Risk Management Authority, which will replace the National Emergency Management Agency and the Disaster Reconstruction Authority.

As he praised the bill, Cooper reflected on the former administration’s response to the 2019 monster storm, which wreaked havoc on Grand Bahama and Abaco, destroying communities and claiming lives.

“One of the most shameful things to have occurred in our history is the former administration’s handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian,” Cooper said during debate on the bill in the House of Assembly.

“I don’t recall another instance where in the face of such tragedy, such grace was given, such bounty of generosity offered and such goodwill and hope were given so freely only to be squandered so thoroughly by an administration of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

“The people of Abaco and Grand Bahama were failed beyond measure by the Minnis administration – some call it the menace administration – and we are left here to pick up the pieces of the disaster that was the Disaster Reconstruction Authority.

“Lest we forget, the member for Marco City (Michael Pintard) and the member for East Grand Bahama (Peter Turnquest) sat in that Cabinet for the entirety of four and a half years no matter how they try to distance themselves.”

Cooper said the Free National Movement believes that “an election does not have consequences”.

“That after an election, we must not remind them of the failure, the anguish, the pain and suffering that they inflicted on the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama after they had suffered so terribly already,” he said.

“They are asking us not to remind them of the millions squandered behind this ill-fated venture of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority.”

The Disaster Risk Management Bill, 2022 seeks to establish a policy to deal with disasters.

“Let me acknowledge that whilst this is good legislation, we concede that not enough has happened fast enough in Abaco and Grand Bahama in the aftermath of Dorian,” Cooper said.

“The bill in and of itself will not expedite relief and restoration. That requires the will and commitment to act. This administration has the will and the wherewithal to continue the relief and restoration efforts that we have already started.”