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Opposition leader supports mandatory evacuations

Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said he believes that a mandatory evacuation bill is “necessary”.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has foreshadowed that his administration intends to table a mandatory evacuation bill when the House of Assembly meets today.

Shortly after visiting the southern islands affected by Hurricane Irma on Monday, Davis said, “I indicated before that consideration was being given by our administration to implement a mandatory evacuation bill.

“Having spoken to a Mrs. Forbes in Acklins and her response to mandatory evacuations, she said she did not leave Acklins because she was told by her God to remain.

“She noticed that we are talking of mandatory evacuation, and she said that there’s no law that will cause her to leave her island.

“So there is that, what I call a religious consciousness that we have to bear in mind, because people do have these beliefs.

“Insofar as mandatory evacuation is concerned, I think it may be necessary in a lot of instances.

“We hear about an 88-year-old gentlemen who remained in Ragged Island and the trauma that he went through and the challenge they had in getting him out.

“At the end of the day, my mantra has been it is better for us to be safe than at the end of the day being sorry.

“What form the mandatory evacuation will be [in] I don’t know.”

Irma hit the southern Bahamas as a Category 5 storm last Thursday, roaring across Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay.

Other islands impacted significantly by the storm were Ragged Island and Bimini.

Last Tuesday, Minnis warned residents not to be foolish and brave the storm, but to evacuate to New Providence.

Over 1,000 people were evacuated from the southern Bahamas on Wednesday, but a little over 300 stayed behind.

The prime minister said that Attorney General Carl Bethel and his team at the Office of the Attorney General were working on the bill.

“I think it is essential that we have a mandatory evacuation [law],” Minnis said.