'I'm used to not having power almost. It's become a routine now'

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October 18, 2016

Downed power lines and poles through Doubloon Drive off Faith Avenue where residents are still without electricity. Photos: Shawn Hanna

Life without electricity is tough and frustrating for residents of Doubloon Drive, watching BPL trucks pass and nearby corners restored to power. Nico Scavella reports

SOME residents in southwest New Providence say they feel forgotten by Bahamas Power and Light as the company continues restoration efforts after Hurricane Matthew, stressing that everyday life has become a nightmare without electricity.

Residents on Doubloon Drive off Faith Avenue south said grimly they have been without power so long that they have started to have dreams about the electricity being on.

Making matters worse, residents claimed, is how at least one corner that runs parallel to Doubloon Drive on the northern side, as well as residents in the adjacent Flamingo Gardens community and Faith Avenue, have had their power restored, while they have not.

“I had dreams about the lights being on,” one female resident told The Tribune dejectedly yesterday.

“It’s been so long that I’ve been learning to deal without it being on, I’ll have to just reposition my world again, because I’m used to this almost. It’s become a routine now.

“Like okay, you can’t iron, so just go to Superwash. Okay, you can’t do this, so you just do without.”

She said she has struggled since the power first went out nearly two weeks ago, but her family members have struggled even more.

“The most saddening part is the fact that my dad who is partially blind, he can see when the lights are on, but now he’s stumbling all over the house, trying to get around, and that’s saddening for me to watch him being unable to try to get around,” she said.

“My mom just did chemotherapy, and automatically you sweat a lot after that therapy. So it’s very upsetting to watch her be so hot. My sister who is pregnant, automatically once you’re pregnant, women know it’s like 100 times hotter than a normal woman would be, because you’re pregnant.

“And for me, I have to deal with all three of them. So it’s very upsetting for me. And I’ve not slept well since the central air has been off... it’s just hard.”

The portion of Doubloon Drive that lies between Faith Avenue and Asphalt Street has been without power since the morning of October 6, which is when the strength of Hurricane Matthew’s category four force winds first began to be felt on New Providence.

As the storm’s winds powered through the capital, one of the poles on the street snapped nearly all the way through at its base and is now leaning dangerously over a nearby house. It has yet to be righted by BPL crews, notwithstanding claims by residents that BPL workers have visited the corner and are aware of the situation.

“I know (BPL) know about the situation because they passed and they slowed down and they look at it and they drove off,” one male resident, who did not want to be named, said. “My initial thought was well okay, they’re doing a survey, they would realise what the situation is, what they’re up against, and they’ll address it. But for the amount of times and the amount of vehicles what pass here and slowed down, how many people do you need to assess the situation, you know what I mean? Because like I said it’s been more than a week.

“I’ve counted in total - from what I’ve seen, about 10 vehicles.

“You need 10 vehicles to assess that the pole needs to be changed? It leaves you to think what the (expletive) is going on.”

When asked if he feels that particular corner and its residents have been forgotten in BPL’s restoration exercise, the man said: “Even if I don’t feel as though we’ve been forgotten, the situation dictates that we’ve been forgotten. Because just around the corner, the same situation. A pole was broken, it was laying across the road. A few days ago that was changed. And I figured okay well, they’re in this area now, they changed that pole, and the same situation here. And we’re talking about in the same area, on the same street.

“That (other) pole has been changed, power has been restored. But just a few feet down the road, our situation isn’t the same. I don’t know if they’re that busy and they’re going to get to us later, but I figure with the amount of (BPL) trucks like I said already passed and assessed the situation, I figure if you change that pole, this one isn’t that far, in the same very area, on the same very street. Now everybody else around us, every surrounding corner is on, except this one.”

He said of BPL’s efforts thus far: “I’ll use two words: bull s*.”

Lewin Smith, a resident of Doubloon Drive for the last 16 years, also lamented the situation, charging that the company is “moving too slow” in remedying the area’s problem.

“For myself it’s just a matter of slowness on behalf of corporations that I know can do better, to come and just look - and I’ve never seen them check but I heard they have been in this area, but to just come and look and have nothing done to virtually places that has no damage, is deplorable,” he said. “It’s not acceptable. If we’re going to be left in the dark like this we should at least know why, at least in a better fashion.”

Lewin Smith, Doubloon Drive resident.

He added: “For this same reason that is why I went onto Water and Sewerage and off the pump. I got off the pump because water is essential when you have disasters. Because everything stinks so fast, if you don’t have water to wash you down, the light is a joke. So you must have water.

“But in assessing my area, it’s easy for me to do that. Other persons around me who have to work 2, 3 o’clock in the morning, it’s hard. Plus you’re used to air condition, but you want to relax to be able to get up to go to work. And it’s becoming unbearable, honestly. For those persons with me it’s really unbearable. So that probably put more of a strain on me than the hurricane itself.”

Another female resident of Doubloon Drive, who did not want to be named, told The Tribune how she left the capital for vacation on the Sunday before Matthew hit New Providence, only to return two weeks later to find her house in darkness.

“I understand we had a storm and all that stuff, but there really isn’t a projected date per se as to when the problem is going to be rectified,” she said.

“And right now we have a lamp pole that is precariously leaning on somebody’s house.

“It appears as if it has snapped, and it has been like that since the storm. When is someone coming to deal with that? I understand people’s power is off, but that pole leaning like that is very dangerous.

“Even if they don’t turn the power on, come and do something with the pole,” she added. Prop it up or something. That is very dangerous for motorists and pedestrians. That is a real concern.”

BPL Corporate Communications Manager Arnette Ingraham told The Tribune yesterday that the company has started to address situations similar to that of Doubloon Drive with the aim of having them all rectified by the end of the week.

“We’ve got a number of issues in a number of areas with that same particular issue,” she said.

“We’re starting to address those individual supply and individual street corner issues this week. So we don’t have an exact timeline to give to the residents.

“But I expect by the end of the week their power will be back on.

“Now, I know that’s a lot to hold on to considering the week has five or six days left.

“But still, I don’t have an exact timeline right now for when they will be restored.”

BPL says it has restored electricity to more than 80 per cent of customers in New Providence.

By Nico Scavella, Tribune Staff Reporter

Click here to read more at The Tribune

News date : 10/18/2016    Category : Business, Environment, Home, Tribune Stories

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