Irma smashes Ragged Island but most of Bahamas escapes

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A teacher's residence on Ragged Island lies in ruins after being destroyed by Hurricane Irma
Damage to a home on Ragged Island caused by Hurricane Irma
Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper said on Sunday that the destruction on Ragged Island is “heartbreaking”

By Travis Cartwright-Carroll, Jayme C. Pinder and Sloan Smith
Nassau Guardian Reporters

NASSAU, Bahamas — With communications cut off and strong winds causing a post-storm assessment flight to be postponed on Sunday, the pictures that emerged from tiny Ragged Island and Salina Point, Acklins, in The Bahamas provided clear evidence of communities ravaged by Hurricane Irma. National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director Stephen Russell said the damage in the southeastern Bahamas was expected to be catastrophic but most of The Bahamas escaped without any significant damage from the storm.

Irma moved into Bahamian waters as a Category 5 hurricane on Thursday, hitting Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.

The storm also affected the northern island of Bimini.

Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper said on Sunday that the destruction on Ragged Island is “heartbreaking”.

The images show the roof of the all-age school in Duncan Town gone. A pile of wooden planks is all that remains of the teacher’s residence, Cooper said.

Cooper said the residents who heeded Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ call to evacuate ahead of Irma made the right decision.

“Given the magnitude of the devastation and the reports so far, it appears that the warnings and the evacuations were in order, and this is going to be a real challenge rebuilding Ragged Island moving forward,” he said.

Cooper said he intends to travel to Ragged Island on Monday to deliver supplies and conduct his own assessment.

On Sunday, Minnis and officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had intended to visit Ragged Island and other islands impacted by the hurricane, but tropical storm force winds forced them to postpone the trip to Monday.

Ragged Island has a population of around 70 people. Officials said 21 remained on the island.

Chief Meteorological Officer Geoffrey Greene said on Friday the eye of Irma passed almost directly over Inagua as a powerful Category 4 storm, packing winds of up to 155 mph. The majority of residents on Inagua were evacuated ahead of the storm.

However, Inagua administrator Julita Ingraham said the island was spared any major damage.

She said, based on reports, there is minor roof damage to some homes and government buildings. She said the 250 people who stayed behind are in good condition.

Mayaguana Island Administrator Earl Campbell said there was no major damage on the island. He said the seven people on the island, three police officers and four residents, were doing well.

Crooked Island Administrator Leonard Dames said there was minimal damage on the island.

He said 107 people stayed behind to ride out the storm, and they were in good condition.

Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian

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