October 1999 Table of ContentsRADIO ZNS 2
The radio tower at Radio Abaco, rated for 120 mph winds, toppled early before the wrath of Floyd. That left the people of Abaco to rely on ZNS 2 out of Freeport for their news.
All the islands of The Bahamas had been affected by Hurricane Floyd,
but first-hand news could only be received from Nassau and Freeport. The
islands that had suffered the greatest damage - San Salvador, Cat Island,
Eleuthera and Abaco - were unable to communicate with the outside world.
This led to an irritating series of messages asking family members on Abaco to get in touch 'some way' as soon as possible.
By Thursday, planes were able to fly into Treasure Cay, Marsh Harbour and Sandy Point. Visiting family members were able to return to Freeport and Nassau with reliable news about the damage on Abaco. This allowed Abaconians to find out about how other settlements had been affected.
We learned that Sandy Point had been cut off from the mainland and that visitors had to make part of their journey by small boat. We learned that the White Sound portion of Elbow Cay had been washed away, carrying several residences with it. We learned that private relief flights were being organised to bring water and food - and satellite telephones for important personnel.
The rumour ran around Marsh Harbour on Friday morning that three planes bringing relief supplies from the US had flown home without dropping off the supplies. Had they done so, they would have had to pay duty on the items. The position was later clarified by ZNS 2. Any relief supplies signed over to the government would be duty free and distributed at the government's discretion. Any items to a specific person, society, church or settlement would be subject to duty unless Nassau was contacted by fax and permission for duty exemption received.
The airwaves almost turned purple with the indignation expressed both on Abaco and in the States. "We have 18 planes loaded up and ready to go," said one caller from West Palm Beach. "They are not coming until they can land their freight free of duty." Other callers said they wanted their relief supplies to go to the hardest hit areas - Sandy Point, Mores Island, north Abaco.
It was clear that even the announcers on ZNS 2 were numbed by the strange situation whereby The Bahamas was turning back relief supplies sent by those who loved The Bahamas and were concerned about the welfare of its citizens.
Congratulations to Max Dean and the whole crew at ZNS 2 for almost being able to do the impossible. Congratulations also to ZNS 2's Diana Swann who deliberately saw the storm out on Abaco and was able to use emergency facilities to send reports to the outside world.
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