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Bahamas Prime Minister Speaks on Hurricane Matthew and Plans Implemented for its Bahamas Landfall

Bahamas Information Services

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, and various stakeholders operating under the umbrella of the National Emergency Management Agency, addressed the nation on the impending approach of Hurricane Matthew and the plans that are already in place for the arrival of the Category 4 storm, at the Cabinet Office, on October 3, 2016. (BIS Photo/Eric Rose)

By: Bahamas Information Services

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, on October 3, 2016, addressed the nation on the plans already implemented for the approaching Hurricane Matthew, which is already at a category 4 level.

"As of now, we are urging all Bahamians to take maximum safety precautions for yourselves and for your families," Prime Minister Christie said at the press event held at the Cabinet Office. "It costs the Government a great deal if they have to go in hazardous circumstances and situations to rescue people and we try to avoid that."

The event included the latest updates from the Department of Meteorology, an overview by Director of the National Emergency Management Agency Captain Stephen Russell, and presentations by various agencies under the NEMA umbrella, including heads of the the Royal Bahamas Defence and Police Forces and the Department of Correctional Services; health and social services representatives, and Bahamas Power and Light, all giving updates on what contingencies and plans are already in place.

According to a NEMA release, a hurricane warning remains in effect for the Central Bahamas, which includes the islands of Long Island, Cat Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador, and the Exumas. Hurricane warnings remain in effect for the Southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The islands include Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Ragged Island, Long Cay, Samana Cay and the Turks and Caicos islands.

A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in the mentioned islands within 36 hours.

NEMA also advised that a hurricane watch is now in effect for the islands of the Northwest Bahamas. That includes the islands of Eleuthera, New Providence, Andros, the Berry Islands, Bimini, Grand Bahama and Abaco.

A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the mentioned islands within 48 hours.

At 8pm (EDT), the center of Hurricane Matthew was located near latitude 16.6 degrees north and longitude 74.6 degrees west or about 120 miles south of Tiburon, Haiti, 200 miles southwest of Port au Prince, Haiti, 306 miles south-southwest of Matthew Town, Inagua, 315 miles south of Duncan Town, Ragged Island, and 608 miles south-southeast of New Providence.

Hurricane Matthew was moving toward the north-northeast at about 8 mph, NEMA advised. A turn back toward the north at a faster forward speed is expected later tonight through Tuesday night. A turn toward the north-northwest is forecast on Wednesday. On the forecast track, the center of Matthew move near or over portions of the southeast and central Bahamas Tuesday night and Wednesday.

NEMA added that maximum sustained winds are near 140 miles per hour with higher gusts. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 185 miles from the center.

It was also noted that the hurricane is different from 2015's Hurricane Joaquin, which did not follow any internationally-forecasted plans, nor obeyed any intensification models. However, several things were learnt from dealing with Joaquin.

"We spoke, for example, to the administrator of Long Island," Prime Minister Christie said. "Long Island was separated by water in several places during Hurricaine Joaquin. We urged the administrator to move affected persons from those areas that our experience tells us can be flooded, move them to higher ground."

We try not to put in mandatory evacuations and we try to persuade Bahamians to be aware of the need to protect themselves and their families," he added. "Obviously, if it comes to requiring them to move through mandatory evacuations, we would make those decisions."

Prime Minister Christie noted that NEMA would have oversight of any future press events on Hurricane Matthew.

"We expect representatives of the Government -- that is NEMA -- to continue to make statements,” the Prime Minister said, and the community must follow directives.

"So, let us pray that there is no impact at all from this hurricane, and if there is impact, it is a minimal impact on our people and on our country," Prime Minister said. "But, in any event, whatever is the state, the Government remains ready and prepared to take immediate action now and after the impact of the hurricane and we wish everyone well."