Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Risk rooted in colonial era weighs on Bahamas’ efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Dorian

The neighborhood known as The Mudd suffered disproportionate damage, a reflection of the Bahamas’ history. AP Photo/Fernando Llano

When Hurricane Dorian made landfall on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas on Sept. 1, 2019, it packed winds of up to 185 miles per hour and a 20-foot storm surge. A day later, it ravaged Grand Bahama for 24 hours.

Across both islands, the storm brought “generational devastation.” Thousands of houses were leveled, telecommunications towers were torn down, and roads and wells were badly damaged. The cost to the Bahamas has been estimated to be up to US$7 billion – more than half of the country’s annual economic output.

But without a plan for achieving equity and establishing basic rights and access for all, solutions will serve mostly the privileged. Colonial patterns of displacement, dependency and disadvantage are likely to be reinforced.

Dorian, like so many others recently, was a monster storm. But blaming disasters on nature – or human-induced climate change – allows those with power to maintain the status quo and to avoid their responsibility for the failures of development.  Read more >>