Monday, January 20, 2020
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
FIVE months after Hurricane Dorian, road access in some private subdivisions in East Grand Bahama are still blocked.
Some residents say the state of the community poses safety risks.
Boats are still blocking roadways, and there are also downed poles, as well as power lines dangerously hanging across the street in the Palm Bay subdivision, which was severely affected by storm surge in early September.
Palm Bay is one of several residential subdivisions near the Grand Lucayan Waterway that is developed by the Grand Bahama Development Company.
The Tribune visited the area on Thursday and counted at least four boats in the Chippinghill Drive and Barlow Lane area. One boat was lying across the street at Barlow Lane and Chippinghill Drive, and another was blocking the westbound lane on Chippinghill Drive.
Although most of the homes were destroyed in Palm Bay, residents are returning to the area to rebuild.
Resident Brian Seymour posted several photos on Facebook and was concerned about the boats still blocking the streets in that area, as well as downed poles and power lines.
“I posted the photos on my Facebook page out of concern for the safety and well-being of residents,” he said. “A lot of residents are moving back in and frequenting the area, and the area as it is now, poses a safety risk.
“I understand that this (Dorian) was something unexpected and overwhelming and that patience is required. I have been patient and I think it is a little beyond asking for patience now, and having to endure such unsafe conditions,” he said.
He believes that the hanging power lines in the road, downed poles, and the boats should at least be removed from the area.
“As for (debris) clean-up, we could get to that later. But as community-minded persons, we do have to be concerned, particularly about going around there at nights because an accident can happen.”
Mr Seymour said that he is very grateful to be alive. He and his family were away at the time when the storm hit.
“But for the Grace of God we would have been among the missing…and this is not about scoring political points, it is about the restoration and rebuilding of the Grand Bahama community,’ he said.
Palm Bay is maintained by Lucaya Service Company Limited (LUSCO), which is responsible for the maintenance of properties in subdivisions developed or to-be-developed in the future by the Grand Bahama Development Company (GB DEVCO).
LUSCO has the responsibility of maintaining and repairing streets, roads and utilities in DEVCO’s subdivisions.
In a statement to this newspaper, a spokesperson for DEVCO said the company began assessing roadways and verges soon after the “all-clear” was given following Dorian, with the view of having storm debris removed.
“Along with the vegetative and construction debris, several boats were also marooned inland,” DEVCO’s statement noted. “For reasons of legality, the owners of the vessels must be contacted and advised concerning the removal of the vessel, before removal can occur. The vessels’ registration numbers were recorded and communicated to the government’s Port Department for its appropriate handling, ie (notification to the owners, coordinated removal of vessels…etc). In our recent follow up with the Port Department, we were advised that the process is still ongoing and DEVCO will be apprised of any required action, within a few days.”
The company said announcements were made regarding the marooned vessels, asking owners to contact them to coordinate the securing of the boats.
“In the interim, other means of contacting the owners are being pursued to quickly remedy this concerning situation. We are hopeful that the matter will soon be resolved.”
Meanwhile, the Grand Bahama Power Company said that a crew would be deployed in the area on Friday.
The company stated that the Chippinghill area received extensive damage as a result of Hurricane Dorian, and that its transmission and distribution infrastructure was also severely damaged.
“GBPC had crews in the area Wednesday, January 15, scoping the damage. Crews will be back in the area January 17, 2020,” the company said.
When asked about debris clean-up in private subdivisions, Katherine Smith, managing director of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority, said that clean-up is underway on the island.
“Grand Bahama has to be cleaned, and whether it is a subdivision that is privately owned, we take the position that we will clean Grand Bahama,” she said.
“The GB Port Authority and Sanitation Services have been responsible for the 230 square miles of Free Trade Zone, and the government has issued contracts by the Ministry of Works and Department of Environment Health Services for areas outside of the Port Area. But again, anywhere that needs to be cleaned the government will seek to ensure that areas are cleaned.
“I think people are frustrated because there is a perception that cleaning is not happening, but it is a constant thing,” she explained.
“But people also need to understand that what we had in this country was a Category Five storm,” she said.