By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
GRAND Bahama experienced flooding, heavy rain, wind and thunderstorm conditions from the outer bands of powerful Hurricane Ian, which made landfall on Florida yesterday.
There was also some power loss reported.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) ordered the activation of hurricane shelters yesterday as a tropical storm warning remained in effect for the northwestern Bahamas.
As a precaution, six shelters in Grand Bahama and one in Bimini were opened around 10am to receive people needing to seek shelter.
In Bimini, severe flooding in the road due to a king tide that was reported in Alice Town and Porgy Bay.
When contacted yesterday morning, Robbie Smith, former chief councillor in Bimini, reported that they were experiencing strong winds.
“Right now, we are getting 40 to 50 mph winds, but not much rain, however, we expect another burst of rain. We had a lot of rain and wind on Tuesday night,” he said.
Mr Smith said there is flooding of seawater in the road at the Administrator’s Office and Police Station on North Bimini.
“The road is flooded with salt water because the drain is low and it is letting water in the road. Because of the king tide - salt water is in the road. The road to the Administrator’s Office and police station is flooded with salt water and we are waiting for the tide to go down.
“Porgy Bay also had quite a bit of rain and the drains are low so there is flooding there too. And also, in Alice Town flooding is there. It is self-draining and also goes with the tide,” he explained.
As far as residents, he said, people are taking a “relaxed approach.”
“No one is running around doing anything. School is closed and streets are not busy. No one has battened up, but some houses have closed their shutters.
“Many residents have been watching it (Hurricane Ian) from day one to see where it was going so they have taken a more relaxed approach - no one is panicking,” he said.
Mr Smith said businesses were still open and operating. There was no power loss when he spoke to this newspaper.
Bimini resident Charlie Wilkinson, of Charlie’s Native Bread, in Bailey Town, said people are still going about their normal daily activities.
“We been getting a lot of rain and wind since Tuesday, and also Wednesday morning, but people here are not afraid, and everything seems normal,” he said.
“Where I live on the baseball field, we have gotten little rain settling there because it is low-lying ground, but I am not concerned.”
Mr Smith said Island Administrator Desiree Ferguson is in New Providence due to a death in her family.
In Eight Mile Rock, resident Cherquante Hepburn, of Martin Town, said there has been some flooding outside near where she lives.
“We live on high ground and the water flows under the deck. We are prepared; we are not scared because we are on high ground,” she said.
Ms Hepburn said her family of seven has purchased necessary food items. “We have water, canned goods - everything you need to prepare for a tropical storm. We went to get extra water and canned goods. We also have a gas stove to use if power goes off.”
Rochelle Minnis, chief welfare officer at the Department of Social Services who is stationed in West Grand Bahama, said residents who do not feel safe should report to the shelters.
“We are asking residents if they don’t feel safe in their homes or if they fear their homes will flood, to go to the shelters that are open today,” she said.
Grand Bahama Minister Ginger Moxey issued a statement, strongly encouraging all residents of Grand Bahama to take heed, make necessary preparations and pay careful attention to weather reports from the Bahamas Department of Meteorology.
“Grand Bahama can expect life-threatening storm surges, catastrophic winds, heavy rainfall and flooding. Everyone should stay alert and monitor your local news for updates and directions provided by local officials. Let’s stay safe, take all necessary precautions, be our brother’s and sister’s keeper,” she said.
Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Captain Stephen Russell 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.
Captain Russell also announced that floodwater rescue teams have been pre-positioned in West End, Grand Bahama, and Alice Town, Bimini, as yet another precautionary measure.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the north-western Bahamas as of noon yesterday with residents of Grand Bahama and Bimini being advised to prepare for the possibility of sustained tropical storm-force winds today.
It stated that 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.
It is reported that total rainfall amounts of four to six inches are expected with isolated amounts of up to eight inches through Friday. As a result, severe, localised flooding is possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas.