Friday, October 11, 2019
EDITOR, The Tribune.
I am a native of Ragged Island. In 2017, my home, located on one of the Ragged Island cays, had its roof blown off. I sought assistance from NEMA along with other residents of Ragged Island. Some of the residents of Ragged Island received financial assistance, but this was not extended to all.
In recent times, a current resident of Ragged Island travelled to Nassau and stayed at Towne Hotel. In registering at the hotel, Duncan Town, Ragged Island was listed as the home address. The hotel clerk indicated, this address cannot be correct because no one resides on Ragged Island. This was a sad indication of the perception that Ragged Island is no longer inhabited or habitable in the sight of other Bahamians.
Two years post hurricane Irma, there are no government administrative personnel (police, nurse, or teacher) on the island. Has the government given up on Ragged Island? Is there any intent or plans to assist in the restoration of Ragged Island so that its residents who truly desire to return home can do so? A clinic, school, and other administrative facilities are essential to the restoration.
Ragged Islanders have always been passionate about their home. When trade was stopped between Haiti and Cuba, this precipitated residents migrating to Nassau. Many of them truly desire to return to their home and make it an active community within our archipelago. A number of Ragged Islanders had commenced efforts to return home. The destruction by hurricane Irma has adversely affected or halted these efforts.
It is noteworthy that Ragged Islanders have positively contributed and continue to participate in the development of The Bahamas. I wish to enumerate just a few:
First Bahamian to navigate from Liverpool, England, to the Bahamas was a Ragged Islander.Four Bahamians who served as the first captains at the inception of The Royal Bahamas Defence Force were from this island. A Ragged Island woman was a key member of the delegation to England and member of the
Women’s Suffrage Movement that led to women being allowed to vote in The Bahamas. Leading surgeons and physicians in our country hail from this island. Lawyers, some ascending to ranks of QC, were born or are direct descendents of Ragged Island. Administrators, actors, artisans, educators, engineers, and the list can go on, are products of our beloved Ragged Island.
Undoubtedly, Ragged Island merits more consideration than it is being given. In moving forward, dredging the channel and harbour of Ragged Island is vital. This task has been neglected for years. Attention to this matter would provide safe moorings for boaters and fishermen.
An accessible harbour could bring increased economic benefits to the island. Many yachters who visit Ragged Island and the surrounding cays repeatedly from November through May are retired individuals.
Access to the island via an adequate channel into a natural harbour would enable more people to come on to the island.
Increased visitors result in the purchase of necessary items from stores, patronising locals for meals, native crafts, seafood and a Bahamian experience, Ragged Island style!
An accessible and safe harbour would be welcomed by hard-working fishermen from throughout The Bahamas in the event of bad weather.
In addition to my petition and pleas for help in restoring Ragged Island, I wish to address hurricane preparedness on a national scale. Hurricane preparedness is an absolute, non-negotiable necessity! However, besides mandatory evacuations, information should be more specific to dealing with rising tides. Hurricanes are unpredictable and due to global warming more destructive. Instruction and practice utilising apparatus (ropes, life vests, boats and skills) about dealing with unusual tides as precautionary and relevant measures merits intentional attention. The recent scenarios in Abaco and Grand Bahama gives evidence of the disasters associated with rising and unusual tides.
I wish also to suggest that a better job be done to maintain and manicure trees throughout The Bahamas. This is a means of preservation of our landscapes during hurricanes. Necessary preventative measures will aid to mitigate the scope and sphere of catastrophe. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
In closing I wish to reiterate, “Ragged Island” no pun intended - merits more consideration for the restorative process and is still a part of The Bahamas and a beloved home to many!
September 24, 2019.