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NEMA assesses tornado damage in Abaco; offers safety tips
May 28, 2012 - 1:04:57 PM

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MURPHY TOWN, Abaco, Bahamas  - An assessment team lead by Captain Stephen Russell, Director of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, conducted an inspection of the damage caused by a tornado, which stuck the settlement Thursday, May 24, 2012.


William Krezel, Structural Engineer of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Leading Mechanic Sydney Larrimore, of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Technical Department, accompanied Captain Russell.


The team discovered that four properties were “clearly impacted” by a severe weather system, which passed through the islands of Bimini, Grand Bahama, Abaco and adjacent waters. The Met Department had issued a warning of a thunderstorm, which can cause strong gusty winds, dangerous lightning, heavy downpour and possible tornadic activity.


The four properties impacted were:


  • A duplex unit. The lower panels of a door were blown out and the roof suffered minor damage.
  • A Laundromat with an apartment attached also had roof damaged; but was covered with tarpaulin. A downed utility pole was quickly replaced and electricity restored to the general area.
  • A triplex unit. A portion of the roof one of the units was blown off;
  •   The Abaco Block and Concrete Company


The structural engineer examined the integrity of the remainder structure of the triplex to determine its suitability for living. The 12 inhabitants have been temporarily relocated with the assistance of the Department of Social Services


Production of the Abaco Block and Concrete Company has been compromised due to damage to its building, equipment and vehicles. The manager noted that it could take at least three weeks to be back in operation.  


The assessment team noted a jeep tangled in heavy duty power lines, a 4,000 gallon fuel tank appeared to have been tossed into the air and landed about 500 feet away from its original location.


“We are thankful to God that there were no fatalities or injuries during the passage of that severe weather system,” Captain Russell said.


He then issued the following tornado safety tips:


  • Look and listen for large hailstones, heavy rain, strong winds, frequent intense lightning bolts with rotary motion at the base of a thunderstorm cloud with loud roaring sounds like jet or train.
  • Seek safe shelter – A basement is best, other wise choose ground floor centre rooms surrounded by other rooms. Never choose upstairs because tornadic winds and speeds increase with height above the ground.
  • Choose rooms on the north and east sides of the your shelter if no interior rooms are available. Stay near the innermost walls. Avoid rooms on the south and west because tornados usually travel from southwest to northeast.
  • Choose a small closet or bathroom because small rooms are less susceptible to collapse. Take shelter within the bathtub if there are no glass tub enclosures or large mirrors nearby.


Protect yourself and families by staying calm, seek shelter immediately, keep a portable TV/radio and flashlight in your shelter, wear shows to protect your feet from broken glass and other debris left in the wake of the storm, protect head and chest by crouching face to floor with hands behind your head, cover yourself with blankets, pillows or coat, hide under sturdy furniture and avoid candles, gas lanterns and oil lamps.


At school or in an office, seek designated shelter in the interior rooms or hallways on the ground floor or lowest floor possible. Avoid auditoriums and gymnasiums.


In shopping malls, seek smaller interior shops on the ground floor and avoid large open rooms as well as the south and west walls.

Evacuate mobile vehicles and seek shelter in substantial structure, ditch or culvert.

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