Hurricane Irene’s destructive path
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Dec 28, 2011
Hurricane Irene weaved a destructive path across The Bahamas in August, ripping off roofs, toppling trees and breaking utility poles.
As the storm barreled toward the country, just over 1,000 people sought refuge at hurricane shelters.
Packing winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, the powerful storm made landfall on August 23.
Four months later, rebuilding efforts continue.
The category three storm flattened houses and left several Family Islands without electricity for weeks, including Cat Island, which also partially lost its telecommunication services.
Water supplies throughout several islands were also affected.
The storm caused serious structural damage to some government offices, clinics, schools, police stations, and other infrastructure across the country.
Serious damage was also done to public docks in Cooper’s Town and Moore’s Island, Abaco, and in George Town, Exuma.
Private dwellings and businesses in some Family Islands, including Acklins, Crooked Island, Cat Island, Mayaguana, Exuma and some communities in Abaco were also damaged.
In Orange Creek, Cat Island, 20 percent of buildings were rendered uninhabitable.
Speaking to reporters following the passage of Irene, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said, “Most other island communities have reported varying degrees of damage to private homes, businesses, farms, fishing boats and churches.
“Roofs of homes and other buildings sustained damage in Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Long Island, Eleuthera, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island, Exuma, Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence.
“Thankfully, Grand Bahama, which bore the brunt of the hurricanes impacting our country in 2004 [and] 2005, was spared the worst of the impact of Hurricane Irene. Reports indicate that while the eastern end of the island was harder hit than other parts, much of the island received minimal impact from the storm’s passing.”
New Providence was also spared the brunt of the storm. Fallen trees and damaged roofs were reported throughout the island.
However, the temporary site that housed the downtown straw market was destroyed, forcing vendors to set up shop on the nearby wharf.
Vendors have since been relocated to the new straw market.
Despite the damage, Ingraham acknowledged that “things could have been much worse”.
While The Bahamas was spared serious devastation, the damage was estimated to be in the millions of dollars.
Relief poured in to affected residents from around the country and from outside agencies.
Additionally, the government spent over $300,000 on repair-related expenses for homes in the MICAL constituency that were damaged, and thousands more in other parts of the country.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Corporation also paid substantial sums of money for the repairs made to the electricity and water services.
Hurricane Irene caused nearly $37 million in government losses in The Bahamas, according to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).
In September, Ingraham signed a grant agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for $200,000 that went toward hurricane relief efforts overseen by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
NEMA received more than $850,000 in cash donations— not including grants, according to officials.