Newswire : In the grip of a nationwide drought, Zimbabwe faces a national disaster

African women carry water

Sep. 28, 2019 (GIN) – In a new low water mark for Zimbabwe’s troubled economy, two million people in Zimbabwe’s capital have now been left without water after the government ran out of foreign currency to pay for imported water treatment chemicals.

Zimbabwe’s capital city shut its main water works on Monday, potentially leaving the city dry and raising the risk of water borne diseases.

The Harare water shortages follow months of drought in rural areas and fast-falling water levels in polluted dams around the country. Amid reports of soaring diarrhea cases in the capital, concern is growing over the possible spread of cholera and typhoid – dozens died in cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe last year.

An El Nino-induced drought has reduced water levels in the country’s dams, including Kariba, which supplies the biggest hydroelectric plant and hit the capacity of cities and towns to supply water to residents.

Harare City Council deputy mayor Enock Mupamawonde told reporters that the local authority required at least 40 million Zimbabwe dollars ($2.7 million) a month for water chemicals but it was only collecting 15 million Zimbabwe dollars in monthly revenue.

It is devastating to say the least,” Mupamawonde told reporters, urging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to declare the water crisis a national disaster.

Wealthier residents are able to buy tankers of water for a price well beyond the means of most people.

According to the IMF, inflation in Zimbabwe is now the highest in the world.

Despite the nation’s hardships, questionable spending continues at the highest levels of power. President Mnangagwa reportedly took a bloated entourage of 90 people to last month’s U.N. General Assembly in New York, including Zanu PF youths who took part in an anti-sanctions demonstration there on Monday.

Mnangagwa’s wife, Auxilia, reportedly flew to the US separately with her own sizable delegation, which included her security team, officials from her Angels of Hope charity organisation and a crew of journalists from the state media.

Both teams are reported to be enjoying hefty allowances funded by Treasury, at a time the government has been asking the citizenry to endure the pain induced by its austerity measures, which have severely eroded incomes and impoverished the majority of the population.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean ex-leader Robert Mugabe was buried in his home village of Kutama on Saturday. His family chose a private funeral after a weeks-long dispute with the administration.

A priest asked God to take pity on the independence fighter as the family of the longtime Zimbabwean leader buried him Saturday at his rural home. They chose a private service after a weeks-long dispute with the administration that forced him from power.

Newswire : . HUD Says deregulation, not affordable housing, needed to solve homelessness

By Charlene Crowell, Special to The Informer

Homeless man on the streets

For more than a decade, economists, lawmakers and others have heralded the nation’s economy. Often citing how unemployment has declined as new jobs have been created, or Wall Street trading and major bank profits rising, some might be led to believe that all is well in America.
But as Sportin’ Life in the folk opera “Porgy and Bess” sang, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
On Sept. 16, California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined by state officials representing cities and counties wrote a letter that urged President Donald Trump to recognize homelessness as a “national crisis decades in the making that demands action at every level of government to alleviate California’s homeless.

Carson’s Sept. 18 reply said in part, “California cannot spend its way out of this problem using Federal funds…More vouchers are clearly not the solution the State needs. To address this crisis, California must reduce its regulatory burdens on housing.”

Advocates for homeless and low-income people strongly disagreed with Carson’s assessment. “We know that the number one cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing,” said Megan Hustings, managing director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

“Consumers are already struggling with crushing debt from student loans and medical expenses, or facing triple-digit interest rates when they attempt to access small-dollar loans,” noted Marisabel Torres, director of California Policy with the Center for Responsible Lending, “When they also have to pay some of the highest housing costs in the nation, it is unfortunately unsurprising that there are such large numbers of homeless people in many of California’s large cities.

“California’s homeless may be the largest by state, but the problem is a national one that deserves to be recognized and acted upon,” Torres said.

In 1987 there was an expression of national will to respond to America’s homeless through enactment of the McKinney Homeless Act. That statute created the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness dedicating the ongoing support of 19 federal agencies to prevent and end homelessness. HUD is one of the participating agencies. The Council on Homelessness even has a written plan, “Home, Together,” that lays out federal remedies over the fiscal years of 2018-2022.

Charlene Crowell is the communications deputy director with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.
This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

Newswire: Tommie Smith and John Carlos will be inducted into the U.S. Olympics Hall of Fame

by BlackmansStreet.Today

Smith and Carlos raise fists in protest on medals podium

When Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their arms with black gloves on their fists during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics, the crowd booed loudly to show its disapproval.
Smith and Carlos finished first and third in the 200-meter dash. The two raised their arms during the Star Spangled Banner to protest racism in the U.S.
Smith won the Gold Medal, setting a world record of 19.83 seconds, and Carlos won the Bronze Medal. Peter Norman of Australia won the Silver Medal.

The crowd booed even louder as the two men walked off the winners’ podium wearing black socks and no shoes. U.S. Olympic officials ordered Smith and Carlos to leave the Olympic village.

Brent Musburger, Chicago sportswriter, called Smith and Carlos “black-skinned storm troopers” for their clenched fist power salute. His comments appeared in Chicago American, later renamed Chicago Today. The newspaper is now out of business.

Musburger, now radio play-by-play announcer for the Oakland Raiders, never explained what the two sprinters were protesting. The article’s headline read “Bizarre Protest by Smith, Carlos Tarnishes Medals.”

It’s safe to say, Chicago American’s newsroom was all-white and all male.
Time magazine said the protest by Smith and Carlos made the Olympic games ugly.
More than 50 years after the Smith and Carlos were ordered to leave the Olympic Village, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced it will induct Smith and Carlos and seven others into the Olympic Hall of Fame. The two men will be inducted during a ceremony November 1 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the committee is based.
Carlos, now 74, doesn’t think about Musburger who never has apologized for his comments.
Carlos told U.S.A. Today Sports, “Well you know, Brent Musburger doesn’t even exist in my mind. So I don’t even know. He didn’t mean anything to me 51 years ago. He doesn’t mean anything to me today. Because he’s been proven to be wrong.” Smith is now 75.
The pending hall of fame induction of Smith and Carlos follows an apology by the University of Wyoming to former black football players who were kicked off the team because they wanted to ask about wearing black armbands in a game against Brigham Young University.
After the Olympics, Smith and Carlos were ostracized by white sports writers. They both worked various jobs, including some coaching.
Before the 1968 Summer Olympics, my friends considered them heroes because of their abilities to sprint faster than most people on Earth. Smith was competing in a track meet at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where I grew up. At least five of us went to the meet. When we saw Smith stretching on the infield, we surrounded him. None of said anything, we just gazed at him. We believed we were in the presence of God.
Peter Norman did not fare as well after the games. The Australian government ostracized Norman and never forgave him for supporting Smith and Carlos.
Norman died in 2006. Smith and Carlos each gave eulogies and were pall bearers at his funeral.

Newswire: Former Dallas cop guilty in deadly shooting

by BlackmansStreet.Today

Botham Shem Jean and Amber Guyger

A jury on Tuesday found former Dallas Police officer Amber Guyger guilty of murder in the 2018 shooting death of Botham Jean, a black man, in his own apartment.
Guyger mistakenly entered Jean’s home in the same apartment complex and immediately assumed he was a burglar.
Jean was sitting on the couch, watching television and eating vanilla ice cream.
Guyger testified through tears while shaking her blonde hair, Jean walked towards her in a manner she deemed malevolent.
Guyger claimed she feared for her life, an excuse cops are trained to use before firing their service revolvers. She fired, shooting him in the heart. He died later at Baylor Medical Center.
The jury could have found Guyger guilty of murder, manslaughter or acquitted her.
After Judge Tammy Kemp read the verdict, loud cheers erupted throughout the court building. Guyger, who had been fired by the police department following the shooting, sat stoically. She later wiped tears from her eyes. Jean’s family traveled from his native St. Lucia for the two-week trial, cried tears of joy. Allison Jean, Botham’s mother joyfully raised her hands in the air.
Guyger faces five to 99 years in prison.
Although some view Guyger’s conviction—a white woman cop convicted of murdering an unarmed black man— as a milestone. It is and it isn’t.
In 2016, Betty Shelby, a former Tulsa, Oklahoma, cop shot to death Terence Crutcher, an unarmed motorist. Crutcher had his hands raised in air after his car had broken down alongside the road. A jury found her not guilty of manslaughter. Shelby went to work for another police department.

In another deadly shooting by police of an unarmed black man in Sacramento, California, police officers returned to duty after not being charged in the murder of Stephon Clark.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California and the FBI found insufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges against Terrance Mercadal and Jaret Robinet in the shooting death of Clark who was standing in his grandmother’s backyard holding a mobile phone which the cops took to be a pistol. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office issued the ruling September 27.
Mercadal and Robinet shot Clark, the father of two, seven times on March 18, 2018. However, an independent autopsy showed that Clark was shot six times in the back.

Newswire : AKA rtaises $1 Million for HBCUs in one day, announces collaboration with the Black Press of America

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia

AKA leadertship with HBCU Presidents


For the second year in a row, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-educated women, raised $1 million in just 24 hours during this month’s HBCU Impact Day. The AKA Sorority, Inc. also has agreed to collaborate in the planning for the upcoming 80th-anniversary celebration of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) in 2020.
Dr. Glenda Glover, International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., said the sorority would work with NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards and NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., during the NNPA’s annual convention June 23-25, 2020 in New Orleans.
“When you need to know the positive stories – the real stories – about African Americans, then you understand our dependence on the Black Press for our news,” said Dr. Glover, the international president of AKA and president of the historically-Black Tennessee State University.
“It is my honor to be a part of this. Alpha Kappa Alpha has been a partner to the Black Press even right here in Nashville with the Tennessee Tribune,” she said.
While the first African American-owned newspaper was founded 192 years ago, the establishment of the NNPA took place in 1940 during a meeting in Chicago.
Since its founding, the NNPA has advocated for the Black Press of America and delivering news to millions of people daily and weekly from the African American perspective. The NNPA is the national trade association that currently represents a vast conglomerate of more than 223 Black-owned newspapers throughout the country that comprise the Black Press of America.
For her part, Dr. Glover and the AKAs have steadfastly continued to promote support of HBCUs across the nation.
Dr. Glover has led that challenge for contributions as part of a four-year $10 million fundraising goal to benefit HBCUs.
“As a college president, I need to recognize the need for HBCUs. I need to recognize the operating needs, and the financial needs because we need funds to survive,” Dr. Glover said.
“I asked my membership to support this initiative. We galvanized members, individuals, and corporate sponsors. We kept going back again, and again,” she said.
“It’s a tremendous feat to raise $1 million in one day, but we knew HBCUs needed to have funding, sustainability, and we have to make sure to secure the endowments of each university,” she said.
In February, AKA gifted $1.6 million from their AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund to 32 HBCUs.
As an HBCU graduate, Glover said she has dedicated her life’s work to the HBCU community.
“I understand the impact personally that establishing an endowment has on a student’s enrollment and graduation prospects,” Dr. Glover said.
“The actions of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. will go a long way toward ensuring that HBCUs remain open and able to encourage the best black students to choose them as a first option,” she said.
AKA began on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1908. Today, nearly 300,000 members make up the sorority in approximately 1,018 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the U.S., the U.S. Virgin Islands, Liberia, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Dubai, Germany, Japan, and South Korea.

Newswire: Nancy Pelosi announces a formal Impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump

By Addy Baird, BuzzFeedNews

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker

WASHINGTON — After months of tamping down calls for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that she’s on board, a move that could upend Donald Trump’s presidency just barely a year out from the 2020 election.
“Today I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” the speaker told reporters after meeting with the Democratic caucus Tuesday afternoon. Pelosi said she will direct six House committees to investigate Trump “under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry,” adding, “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
While the Judiciary Committee has already begun an impeachment investigation, Pelosi announced that the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Oversight, Ways and Means, and Financial Services committees will now formally join them in a broader inquiry.
The committees’ investigation is just a first step toward impeachment — a majority of the full House would still need to vote on articles of impeachment in order to indict Trump. The Senate is then responsible for holding an impeachment trial, but Republicans are unlikely to pursue one.
Pelosi’s announcement comes amid reports that Trump withheld aid from Ukraine and pressured its president to investigate former vice president Joe Biden’s family ahead of the 2020 election.
Trump’s reaction to the announcement, predictably, was a series of tweets sent from Trump Tower as Pelosi spoke and in the minutes after. In one, he wrote that Democrats “purposely had to ruin and demean” his “important” day at the United Nations “with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage.” He also noted that Democrats hadn’t yet seen a transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president.
Democrats’ messaging on impeachment has been muddled in recent weeks. The Judiciary Committee has begun the formal process of setting up an impeachment investigation, and many of its members have argued since July that the House is already in an inquiry stage. While Pelosi had backed those efforts, she resisted calls for impeachment.
More than 170 Democrats had come out in support of an impeachment inquiry as of Tuesday afternoon, including many members in more conservative districts. Their support for the measure appeared to finally sway Pelosi, who has argued for months that the House cannot pursue an inquiry without having all the facts and has publicly worried impeachment would be too divisive and could lose Democrats their majority.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell of the Alabama 7th District was among those who announced her support for the Impeachment investigation following Speaker Pelosi’s lead.
CNN reported Tuesday afternoon that Pelosi was encouraging her members to state their positions on an inquiry now, in order to make it clear to the public that there is a groundswell of support in the caucus. Pelosi also reportedly said she believes now that the American public understands the issue.
Several Democratic presidential contenders have announced or renewed calls for Trump to be impeached as the Ukraine story has unfolded. And many of the speaker’s allies announced their support for an inquiry Tuesday ahead of Pelosi’s own announcement.
“We cannot delay. We must not wait. Now is the time to act,” Rep. John Lewis of Georgia said on the House floor. “I have been patient as we tried every other path and used every other tool … I truly believe the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come.”
While the full story about Trump’s recent phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remains unclear, the Washington Post reported on Monday that Trump put a hold on $400 million in aid to the country in the days before the call. When the two leaders did speak, Trump reportedly pushed for information on Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who had a seat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company. (Notably, Joe Biden is currently leading the Democratic primary field.)
The House and Senate have been working to get information related to a whistleblower’s complaint, which is reportedly related to Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, but have been stymied by the Trump administration. Pelosi also announced that the House will hold a vote Wednesday to formally condemn Trump’s attempts to block Congress from obtaining the complaint. The Senate passed a (similarly nonbinding) resolution Tuesday afternoon requesting a copy of the whistleblower’s complaint as well.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that he had ordered the “complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine” to be released on Wednesday. “You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo!,” he wrote.
But Democrats were quick to say that releasing the transcript was not enough, and soon after Trump’s announcement, Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff made an announcement of his own, saying on Twitter that the whistleblower who originally raised concerns about the call wanted to speak to the committee and has requested guidance from the acting director of National Intelligence about how to do so.
“We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week,” Schiff wrote.
Paul McLeod contributed to this story.

Newswire: Affluent society blamed for speed up in removal of Kenyan forest

Kenyan children planting trees

Sep. 16, 2019 (GIN) – Since independence, natural resources in Kenya have been on a fast track to extinction. Today, nearly half of all its forests are gone, resulting in more droughts, floods and other dire consequences for communities, ecosystems, food security and infrastructure.

From 10% of the country covered in forest in 1963, noted Kaluki Paul Mutuku, Youth4Nature Regional Coordinator – Africa Group -only 6% was covered in 2009.

The nation’s forests have been victims of agricultural expansion, unregulated logging and urbanization.

In 1977, deforestation moved from the back page to the front page with the launch of the Green Belt Movement by Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai. Its mission was to plant trees across Kenya to fight erosion and to create firewood for fuel and jobs for women.

Some 30 million trees were planted by some 900,000 Green Belt women who were paid a few shillings for their work. For her initiative, Ms. Maathai went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

Ms. Maathai passed away in 2011 but her campaign did not die with her. This year, urgent calls to save the forests were again in the news with a highly-critical open letter signed by U.N. staffer Gabriel Rugalema and economist Susan Mugwe.

“Kenya must move fast to reverse deforestation,” was the heading of their piece published by Business Daily of Kenya.

“Currently, we are losing 50,000 hectares of forest each year – primarily due to the emergence of an expanding affluent society that wants to dine on steak, drive cars, recline on comfortable seats, live in elegant houses and consume fresh fruits and vegetables. To meet this demand, commercial agriculture for products such as livestock, horticulture, timber and rubber are increasingly encroaching on forest lands,” they wrote.

“If we do nothing to reverse it, Kenya shall be a complete desert in 113 years,” they warned.

Meanwhile, an informal study by professor Julius Huho of Garissa University had dismaying news about the state of environmental studies in centers of academic learning.

“Students didn’t seem interested in learning about climate change,” Huho recalled. “They attributed its relevance just to farming activities. Only 14.9% thought it should be included in all levels of education (primary to universities). In secondary schools, learners should have a deeper understanding of global warming and climate change and how it can be dealt with.”

Newswire: United Auto Workers strike General Motors

by BlackmansStreet.Today

The United Auto Workers Monday morning went on strike at General Motors, the first labor walkout at the Detroit automaker since 2007.

However, both sides said they resumed negotiations Monday afternoon to end the strike. It is not known how much progress has been made.

Some 46,000 hourly workers hit the picket lines at 55 plants nationwide. The workers want better pay, better medical coverage and a larger share of the $27.5 billion in profits the Detroit-based company has generated over a four-year period since the last UAW contract in 2015.

“We are standing up for fair wages, we are standing up for affordable, quality health care. We are standing up for our share of the profits. We are standing up for job security for our members, said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes.

In a Facebook post, GM said it is offering the UAW $7 billion in investments and more than 5,400 jobs. The manufacturer also said it is offering investments in eight facilities in four states. In addition, GM said it offered the UAW the opportunity to become the first union-represented battery plant in the country.

General Motors has the smallest unionized workforce behind Ford and Chrysler.

Newswire: Congressional Black Caucus: Reflecting on 1619, Preparing for 2020

By Barrington M. Salmon

Rev. Al Sharpton receives the Harold Washington Award during the CBC-ALC Phoenix Awards dinner. Beside him is the presenter, U. S. Rep. Frederica Wilson PHOTO: Don Baker Photogra

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Thousands of Black community activists, organizational leaders and political observers descended on the Walter E. Washington Convention Center last week to dive into the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference.
The mood was a mélange of reflection and contemplation about the past and excitement and trepidation about the future. This year’s theme, “400 Years: Our Legacy, Our Possibilities”, suffused throughout the public policy forums, panel discussions and conversations in the convention hallways and corners as registrants, lawmakers, thought leaders and millennials delved into a range of issues and concerns.
“I’m feeling the weight of pride and joy of our struggle on how to make what was professed real in the United States,” said Virginia State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, who won a special election in 2017 held to fill the vacancy left by now Democratic U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin. “The foundation of democracy and all systems we have today was built on the power structure of serving White men. I feel pride, frustration and sadness with how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.”
Sen. McClelland was a panelist at the National Town Hall, an event attended by several hundred people, which is viewed as the official opening of the annual legislative conference. Moderated by Dr. Johnnetta Cole, chair and seventh president of the National Council of Negro Women, panelists had a vigorous debate that touched on slavery, resistance, reparations, the vital importance of voter mobilization and participation, predatory capitalism, and keys to success in the future.
National Urban League President/CEO Marc H. Morial said African-Americans face an existential crisis generated by a man in the White House who continually adds fuel to a racially toxic environment, utters vile anti-Black racist rhetoric, denigrates African-Americans and people of color and is implementing policies that are antithetical to Black people.
Morial said while Blacks are right to be alarmed, their concerns about the retrenchment of civil rights by the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers must be met with resistance and the use of the ballot box, among a variety of other tools, to effect change.
“Today our progress is under vicious attack as this administration rolls back gains. It is most extreme and potentially dangerous,” he said. “It is an intentional, malicious and diabolic plan taking place in state legislatures. They have had great success implement voter ID restrictions and closing polling stations.”
Morial pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 to strike down a key provision of the
landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. “Shelby (v Holder) is our Plessy, our Dred Scott,” Morial said, referring to the landmark 1896 Supreme Court ruling that codified that racial segregation in public facilities was constitutional under the “separate but equal” doctrine. It also declared that African-Americans were not and could never be citizens of the United States. “They trick, deceive and thwart our efforts to participate. We have to be ‘woke!’ not tricked and bamboozled.”
Derek Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, echoed Morial who said he’s tired of talk and that it’s time for action.
“We have to move past rhetoric to action,” Johnson told the audience. “During Freedom Summer, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses and others focused on getting access to healthcare (for African-Americans), voting rights and education. They renewed the fight to how to leverage the vote. In a democracy, the vote is our currency.”
Johnson reiterated that organizing and mobilizing the Black vote is imperative if Blacks hope to blunt the racist agenda embraced, advocated and codified by Donald Trump. And mobilizing low-frequency voters takes on added importance because the outcome for president will be determined by one or two percent, he added.
Rev. Al Sharpton, once a presidential candidate himself, received the Harold Washington Award during the CBC-ALC Phoenix Awards dinner. He told the audience that America is now “at a crossroad” with the upcoming 2020 election. He called on voters to “stop this back biting and infighting and jealousy and win this battle once and for all!”
Dr. Shantella Sherman told a Trice Edney Newswire reporter that while the planners and organizers did a fabulous job this year as they have in the past, her frustration is that she wants to see more.
“I think for folks who’re uninitiated to the CBC Foundation and this event, they are excited. I’m always excited by new blood and new energy that comes every year, but as a reporter and attendee for the past 20 years, I’m less inspired. I want the rubber to hit the road,” said Sherman, a eugenics and race historian and founder and publisher of ACUMEN Magazine, a historical magazine that fuses history and journalism. “I don’t want to see you talking about the same thing year after year.”
She added, “Everything at CBCF is amazing. But I need an action plan. I didn’t see anything about ‘this is what we’re going to do about this.’ There were far too many extremely intelligent, high-falutin folks with 15 degrees and a home on the hill but can you get your hands dirty to ensure that your kids can vote and that we can hold onto the gains we’ve made?”
Sherman talked about the Gary Plan, which was conceived by original members of the Congressional Black Caucus. It was an action plan calling on the federal government to support a multi-billion program for Black business and economic support, education and housing because CBC members understood that this was a marathon.

Newswire : Bahamas facing long road to recovery but cleaving to hope amidst devastation

By Barrington M. Salmon

Massive devastation in the Bahamas

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Chris Laville remembers looking out of the
window of his apartment, thinking it might not turn out too bad.

“It was early in the morning. It had rained and there was a light breeze,” Laville recalled in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “I woke saying we could ride this out not knowing what a Category 5 storm was.”
Over the next day and a half, Laville, his wife and nine co-workers learned much more about Dorian than he ever wants to again. Elbow Key, where they lived, bore the brunt of Hurricane Dorian, the strongest storm ever to hit the Caribbean archipelago of 700 islands.

Laville, the 40-year-old head chef of the Sea Spray Resort, now says if he ever again hears a hurricane’s coming, he’ll be on the first flight out. Dorian made landfall and then sat for almost two days, lashing the islands with 185 mile an hour winds and gusts of up to 220 miles an hour.

He said he’s never been more afraid in his life and has been left deeply traumatized.
“… I met everybody running as the storm took off the roof,” he said. “I grabbed some things as the roof flew off my room. I looked and saw the veranda was gone, the stairs were gone and the railing took off. The only thing I could do was jump.”
Laville said he caught his wife Indira who jumped out of the building and waited for the rest of the group to do the same. As they sought shelter, they were buffeted by fierce winds and driving rain and sand.
Elsewhere on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, Dorian – which traveled at a glacial pace of one mile per hour – tore through buildings, shredded objects in its path, tossed boats and other marine vessels onto land, obliterated homes and businesses and killed residents.

Laville said 40 units on the resort are gone and he lost a co-worker and a friend who was a ferry boat pilot. Elsewhere, Bahamians are trying to comprehend obliterated communities, washed
out roads and neighborhoods sitting under water.

Dr. Paul Hunt, a pediatrician and allergy specialist, who has lived in the
Bahamas since 1990, said he’s heartbroken. He’s fortunate, he said, because he and his family were in Nassau when the storm hit and his home is not damaged. His thoughts, he said, are on those who’re coping with loss and struggling to come to terms with the shocking devastation.

“I’m just numb. The gut-wrenching thing is my patients. I have a patient who I looked after since he was two and I just heard that a storm surge swept away him and two of his children,” said Dr. Hunt, a husband and father of three. “He’s lost and presumed dead. Save for the surge, this wouldn’t have been a big thing. The surge doesn’t happen over time, it can occur in two or three minutes.”

Dr. Hunt said on Friday morning, he spoke to a niece who works at CNN who told him the government just sent 200 body bags to Abaco.

Official reports indicate that 43 people have been confirmed dead but that number is expected to rise astronomically as rescue teams finally reach islands and communities that have been cut off by flood waters. At least 70,000 are homeless, according to reports.

The hurricane dropped 30 inches of rain and triggered a storm surge as high as 23 feet, leaving more than 13,000 homes damaged or destroyed, the Red Cross and government officials said. A video, which was shared widely, taken by a member of Parliament inside his home, shows dark water lapping against a second-story window 15-20 feet off the ground.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said in a press conference that although the storm targeted only a small section of the Bahamas, it still inflicted “generational devastation.”

According CNN, Joy Jibrilu, director-general of the Bahamas Tourism and Aviation ministry, estimates that “… hundreds, up to thousands, of people are still missing.” Bahamas’ Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands told Guardian Radio 96.9 FM, that body bags, additional morticians and refrigerated coolers to store bodies are
being transported to Abaco and other affected areas.

Four morticians in Abaco are embalming remains because officials have run out of coolers, he added.
“The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering,” Sands said. “Make no bones about it, the numbers will be far higher. It is going to be significantly higher than that. And it’s just a matter of retrieving those bodies, making sure we understand how they died. It seems like we are splitting hairs, but not everyone who died, died in the storm.”

Back at Elbow Key, Chris Laville said the group took refuge in a laundry room after breaking a window to get in. While gaining entrance, he gashed his hand but ignored it as everyone tumbled inside. It wasn’t long before the floor above them began to fall into the storeroom so they all set off to find another safe space.

“I ran to the boss’s house and saw a boat parked in the room where he
was,” Laville said. His boss joined the group, which went to another house.
“We bent down low and reached the house, by the grace of God,” said Laville. “Amazingly, the door opened with a gentle kick. As soon as we got in, the wind slammed the door behind us.”

Laville said this particular house was on stilts.
“Actually the building moved four or five inches,” he said, referring to the wind’s power. “When the eye passed over, I went to look for food and snacks because we ran out of food and water. We slept with our clothes and shoes on because we were afraid that something else might happen while we slept.”

Although he didn’t think of the wound to his hand, or his having stepped
on a nail, Laville said his wife was concerned enough to encourage him to go to the Hopetown Fire Station. Surprisingly he said,
he received 12 stitches and was put on an emergency flight to Nassau to
receive additional medical care.

“It was a minor cut, but they opened it up and stitched the tendons,” he said. “My wife couldn’t come with me. She just said, “Honey, just go.’ I’m still worried about her because she’s there with people but still by herself. She was at the ferry station ‘til 4:45 p.m. and didn’t get on. I’m not feeling good, it’s not a good feeling at
all.”

After Dorian’s arrival, Kevin Seymour said, he spent the worst 48 hours of his life.
“My second daughter Keayshawn lives in Abaco. We lost track of her for two days. They got flooded out and had to find refuge somewhere else,” said, Seymour, director of health, safety and the environment for the Grand Bahama Power Company. “Not knowing – that was painful. It was the worst two days of my life. I last spoke to her on Sunday and told her she needed to go to Marsh Harbor which is higher ground. Good thing she didn’t go.”

As he and his family rode out the storm with no electricity but with adequate food and water, Seymour said the hurricane sounded like airplane engines revving on the tarmac. While the sound didn’t bother him, he said it really bothered his wife.
Corinne Laville, Chris’ aunt, said she’s most concerned about the trauma people have experienced and how that will affect them going forward. This hurricane offers yet another opportunity for the
government and Bahamians to self-correct, she said.

“I swear, if we don’t change our thinking … this is an opportunity to really do this right,” said Laville. “In Freeport people are taking care of one another. But in Abaco, Haitians have replaced White Abaconians as cheap labor while they stay on their yachts. We have to look at Haitian-Bahamian situation.”

Laville said a few thousand Haitians live in two shanty towns, one called
the Mudd, where the structures aren’t built to code and likely were not
able to withstand the powerful hurricane.

“We need to set standards on the islands,” she said. “And everything is too Nassau-centricity. That has to stop.”
She said humor has been one way for Bahamians to cope. For example,
people said Dorian couldn’t leave the Bahamas because it was too dark,
referring to the constant electrical blackouts caused by load-sharing.

Dr. Hunt said the Bahamas will rebuild. “Our beloved island of Grand Bahama took a pounding and there is a lot of hurting,” he wrote on Facebook. “My heart goes out to the families of those with loved ones who have lost their lives, several of who were well known to me. The destruction in Abaco was catastrophic and gut wrenching…I will be returning to Freeport shortly to do my part in trying to alleviate some of the suffering and help in the rebuilding of our Island. We in Grand Bahama have faced and conquered many obstacles that have been placed in our path. We will not be undone by Hurricane Dorian and we all will emerge from this collective experience stronger, wiser and more united.”