Thou­sands in Ba­hamas strug­gle to find work

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - News - BY DANICA COTO

Jobs are scarce, sav­ings are run­ning low and money is barely trick­ling in.

As sur­vivors of Hur­ri­cane Do­rian en­ter week three of post-storm life, many in the north­west­ern Ba­hamas, known for its casi­nos, golf cour­ses and mega yachts, worry they will be forced into deep poverty as they scram­ble to find work in the aftermath of the Cat­e­gory 5 storm that wreaked havoc on two is­lands.

“Peo­ple say, ‘You’re going to be all right,’ but those are mere words,” said Edna Gelin, who was the man­ager of a nat­u­ral hair store in Freeport on Grand Ba­hama is­land that has been closed since be­ing badly dam­aged by the storm. “It’s going to be bad be­cause a lot of busi­nesses were de­stroyed.”

As the north­west­ern Ba­hamas strug­gles to re­cover from Do­rian, res­i­dents braced for newly formed Trop­i­cal Storm Hum­berto, which was ex­pected to hit two is­lands over the week­end that were al­ready bat­tered by Do­rian. The U.S. Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said the storm was pass­ing just east of Great Abaco is­land early Saturday and would bring heavy rains to the north­west­ern Ba­hamas.

In the months prior to the hur­ri­cane, the un­em­ploy­ment rate of the tourism-de­pen­dent Ba­hamas had de­creased slightly, but stood at 10% on the ar­chi­pel­ago of some 395,000 in­hab­i­tants. On Grand Ba­hama it was 11% and had in­creased to 9% on nearby Abaco be­fore Do­rian slammed both is­lands, with peo­ple now try­ing to find any type of work af­ter thou­sands lost their jobs.

Carl Swann, an IT tech­ni­cian from Abaco, re­cently typed up his re­sume on his cell­phone af­ter hear­ing about sev­eral job leads in the cap­i­tal, Nas­sau: as­sis­tant en­gi­neer, se­cu­rity guard and elec­tronic sales­man. How­ever, he hasn’t se­cured any in­ter­views yet and wor­ries about his fi­nances be­cause he has nowhere to go and has been stay­ing at a ho­tel for two weeks.

“I’m wast­ing my money,” he said.

It’s un­clear how many Bahamians af­fected by the hur­ri­cane have sought and ob­tained un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits, but the govern­ment has pledged to make it eas­ier for evac­uees to ac­cess those ben­e­fits.

“That will be a big re­lief,” La­bor Min­is­ter Dion Foulkes re­cently told re­porters. “We’d like to sta­bi­lize as many fam­i­lies as we can as quick as pos­si­ble.”

RA­MON ESPINOSA AP

As the clouds of an­other trop­i­cal storm gather, Mos An­tenor, 42, drives a bull­dozer Fri­day while clear­ing a road on the is­land of Grand Ba­hama, Ba­hamas. Thou­sands of jobs have been lost there, along with the busi­nesses that cre­ated them.

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