Although Hurricane Irene departed the Bahamas Thursday night, islanders are left to pick up the pieces and assess the damage to their archipelago.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that the central and southeastern regions of the Caribbean nation were pulverized by the storm, while New Providence and Grand Bahama largely avoided Irene’s full impact.
Cat Island, Rum Cay, Crooked Island, Acklins and Mayaguana have reportedly incurred millions of dollars in property damages, as hundreds of homes, churches and other infrastructure were either destroyed or badly damaged.
NEMA said that 90 percent of the settlement at Lovely Bay, Acklins has been wiped out.
“House roofs and several homes [were] blown away. Power lines and trees went down in the roads, and the shelter’s population increased,” NEMA said in a statement.
Captain Stephen Russell, director of NEMA, told the Miami Herald newspaper: “I’m concerned about Cat Island, and heard about some conditions in Eleuthera. Rum Cay and San Salvador don’t seem too bad right now.”
The Herald also said heavy damage was reported in Chester Bay and Salinas Point. Another witness told the paper that Crooked Island is “devastated” with dazed residents who had lost their homes wandering around.
However, no lives were lost, according to a report in the Nassau Guardian newspaper.
Downed electric lines have cut off power to thousands of residents.
The Bahamas Electricity Corp. (BEC) said in a statement: “At present, a number of customers are experiencing supply disruption. These outages may be caused by downed power lines due to heavy winds or trees falling on lines. Also, feeders that tripped due to fault conditions remain out of service until assessments can be carried out. This minimizes the risk of equipment damage as well as potential harm due to the possibility of downed energized power lines.”
Residents of New Providence and the Family Islands were particularly vulnerable to power outages.
According to the Guardian, local meteorologists recorded wind gusts as high as 140 miles per hour in some parts.
“That is significant and that is why you hear all the damage taking place,” said meteorologist Godfrey Burnside
One local official told the paper: “There is a tremendous amount of debris on the roads. Our first priority is to clear the streets, so we’re putting together a team of workers to clear the streets to give us access.”
Transportation in and out of Bahamas will likely be limited over the next few days,
A total of 13 inches of rain are believed to have fallen on the islands, according to reports.
It was the worst storm to hit the Bahamas since Hurricane Floyd in 1999,.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.