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Hurricane-weary Guyanese ask Guyana gov’t to evacuate them to their homeland

Guyanese in hurricane-battered Bahamas on Sunday appealed to the Guyana government to assist many of them to be evacuated back to their home country as they have lost all of their belongings, homes and jobs.

“What we would like the Guyanese authorities to do is to coordinate evacuations for the return home of those Guyanese who will want to come back home. We know that some people have lost everything and they may not be replaced at those jobs, particularly the teaching jobs,; some of them simply do not exist anymore,” Vice President of the Guyana-Bahamas Association, Vibert Williams told News-Talk Radio Guyana/Demerara Waves Online News.

Guyana’s Civil Defence Commission (CDC) urged Guyanese in The Bahamas to call or WhatsApp that entity on +592-662-0671 .

Williams said none of the Guyanese, who are residing on that archipelago, has been reported dead or injured. A number of them have been evacuated from flattened islands such as Abaco and Grand Bahama to the capital, Nassau.

Williams said the association has so far accounted for 40 Guyanese, partly due to the fact that many of the estimated 4,000 Guyanese who reside there have not registered with his entity. There is an estimated 4,000 Guyanese living in The Bahamas.

The Guyana-Bahamas Association Vice President also called on Guyanese back home to mobilise cash through a central organisation such as the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) and arrange to send it to a designated bank account in The Bahamas. Williams assured that all monies received would be properly accounted for. “The association will make sure that any donations, whether it is cash or kind, is correctly managed and accounted for and that it reaches those who need it the most – that’s our commitment,” he said.

Foreign Secretary, Carl Greenidge, in reaction, told News-Talk Radio Guyana/Demerara Waves Online News that Guyana, being part of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), has to respond to The Bahamas’ needs. He said before Guyanese could be extracted and taken back to their homeland, Cabinet would have to decide on the forms of assistance and work out the logistics in collaboration with The Bahamas government.

“To help them is something that requires some logistical work and it also requires coordination with the administration of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. It is inconceivable that in such circumstances, one would just pick up a plane and say that as many Guyanese as I can find, say look you all just come on board and we will go on,” Greenidge said.

“But decisions about evacuation financial and physical assistance will need to be coordinated after we have a clear idea of the extent of the requirements. The Guyana government, he added would deal with The Bahamian government first and then individuals. We are in touch with the relevant authorities but are not yet in a position to send officers to make an assessment of what specific assistance assistance and its timing are feasible.”

He said the Foreign Ministry was working through Guyana’s Honorary Consul in The Bahamas, Jairam Mangra, CDEMA and the CDC. Greenidge added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of the Diaspora would from Monday be available to respond.

The CDC’s Senior Response Officer, Captain Salim October told News-Talk Radio Guyana that the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Citizenship and Immigration was on standby to assist with replacing lost birth certificates and passports.

David Denny said “the storm was so strong and it seemed like a monster” that did not merely toss around boats and buildings but destroyed them”. “It was so powerful that it was ripping roofs off…The winds were travelling at such a speed that we couldn’t even see far and even at 30 feet it was difficult for you to see,” he said.

Stacia Pitt, who resided on Abaco Island, said she was happy to be alive and it “is not something by accident, it is a privilege from God” after enduring twisters, rising waters. “We teamed up and we cleared the road together and we were able to pass,” Pitt said from Nassau. She and others were airlifted from Abaco where several of her students have died and the school blown away.