The Bahamas activates all emergency shelters ahead of Hurricane Isaias’ passage

Prime Minister of the Bahamas Hubert Minnis speaking during last night’s press conference ahead of the passage of Hurricane Isaias. (Photo: OPM Communications for Facebook @OPMBS)

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of the Bahamas is to activate all shelters by 10:00 am local time on Friday (July 31) ahead of the anticipated fallout from the passage of Hurricane Isaias.

In a statement to the public Thursday night, NEMA indicated that Bahamians unable to weather the storm at home may make their way to the 25 designated emergency shelters as the country braces for the worst from the massive hurricane.

Speaking from a virtual press conference last night, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said the full resources of his government, including the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force have been mobilised ahead of Isaias’ passage.

He urged all Bahamians to take Hurricane Isaias seriously and make preparations.

Virtually every section of the Bahamas has been placed under hurricane warning as of midnight Friday.

“We know from past and especially recent experience, that storms can change course quickly. They can intensify rapidly as we saw with Hurricane Dorian,” Minnis asserted.

In the meantime, Dr Minnis further declared that all government offices will be closed by midday Friday and the country-wide lockdown due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been relaxed and replaced by a 10:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew, effective Friday.

Bahamian nationals and permanent residents will be permitted to move around for the purposes of storm preparations and to respond to any emergencies during and after the storm, Minnis indiciated.

What’s more, food stores, water depots, pharmacies and gas stations are being permitted to open on Friday and Saturday until 8:00 pm, unless weather conditions further deteriorate.

Hardware stores are also allowed to operate until 8:00 pm on Friday and Saturday, weather permitting.

Additionally, Prime Minister Minnis announced that based on current indicators and data provided by health officials, the lockdown targeting mass movement may still be necessary following the passage of the storm.

As at 7:00 am Eastern Standard Time (EST), Hurricane Isaias was located near latitude 21.3 North, longitude 73.9 West—or roughly 50 kilometres northwest of Great Iguana Island.

The latest on Hurricane Isaias, as at 7:00 am EST. (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

According to the latest advisory from the US-based National Hurricane Center, the massive storm is packing maximum sustained winds at 130 kilometres/hour, with higher gusts and is expected to strengthen further today while remaining at hurricane-strength for the next few days.

Isaias is moving toward the northwest near 28 kilometres/hour, with hurricane-force winds extending outward up to 75 kilometres from its centre. Tropical-storm-force winds extend further outward up to 335 kilometres, the NHC observed.