Tourists abandon Bahamas as Irene nears
Hurricane Irene looks pretty impressive from the international space station.
August 24th, 2011
01:10 PM ET

Tourists abandon Bahamas as Irene nears

NASSAU, Bahamas (CNN) - It's quieter than you might expect here in paradise as Hurricane Irene bears down on the Bahamas. The beaches are as beautiful as ever and the people just as friendly.

Except many of the beaches have yellow tape blocking them. "DO NOT ENTER," the tape reads, and nobody has. There are very few tourists left. Most departed on cruise ships that pulled out of port overnight or caught flights out before the airport closes Wednesday afternoon.

Those tourists who remain are hunkering down in large hotels built to withstand intense storms.

Without tourists there is no reason for the souvenir shops and restaurants to stay open. Most have metal hurricane shutters or plywood sheets covering the doors and windows.

Brian Nottage owns an ice cream parlor, dive shop and T-shirt store on Bay Street in downtown Nassau. He stayed open Wednesday morning hoping departing tourists may enjoy an ice cream cone on their way out of town but after a few hours he gave up and was putting up the shutters on his businesses.

"We've been through quite a few hurricanes, so we're pretty much prepared," he says. "Just basic shutters on all the windows and doors. (With) this particular building we have to be conscious of the flooding, so we tape up the whole of the door because you never know how high the water will get."

In typical island fashion, Nottage maintains a mellow demeanor. He's owned his businesses for 30 years and has seen many storms.

"I don't think we'll get more than 100, 105 mph winds at best. It's still pretty strong, but we've been through that quite a bit," he says, a little more casually than most people would with a hurricane heading their way.

Send your Irene pics and videos to iReport

Bahamians have few other options. New Providence Island is only about 20 miles long, so outrunning the storm is out of the question.

Before long the task is done and Nottage's shutters are all hung.

"It takes a matter of 10 minutes to do a window because we've done it so often," he says. "Mostly we put them up for near-misses, but this one looks like we're going to get it."

Post by:
Filed under: Bahamas • Hurricanes • Tropical weather
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Anomic Office Drone

    Does that count as "white flight"?

    August 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • V. P..

      You know what.... Just forget it, you're not worth the time!

      August 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Apparently I was and you just were incapable of coming up with less stupid than my very stupid joke.

      August 24, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tom

    Biff and Buffy were horribly disappointed that they had to leave so soon. But don't worry for us, we will manage, somehow (?)

    August 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Waldo

    But if theycant swim

    August 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Billy Goat

    Baaaah. Baaaaah

    August 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sorin

    Oh, c'mon guys... Are you scared of Irene that God sent to you. Be brave, you big mouths, resist, do not leave!

    August 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cult of Personality

    Hurricanes are NO JOKE and NO LAUGHING MATTER – I survived Hurricane Andrew back in 1992 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005, both of which were Category 5 Storms. My home sustained considerable damage, and getting the insurance company to work with me was like pulling teeth. The insurance industry always does anything it can to avoid paying out claims, but they sure don't have a problem collecting their premium dues. Gotta love it...Ughhh...!!!

    August 24, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • f

      Wilma was actually only a Cat 3 when it hit land and look what it did. Imagine if it hit land as a CAT5??

      August 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      I saw homestead after andrew. It was like a great scythe cut everything off about fifteen feet off the ground. It was said that many more died than the tourism-minded government wanted to admit.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. f

    No, stay there. It's just some rain and wind. The hotel will never give you your money back anyway if you leave. So stay... What's the worst that could happen ???? ......................................................Katrina ?

    August 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jake

    Hello f. I want to introduce you to u.c.k.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bobcat2u

    The only tourists wanting to stay behind are the ones who probably never faced a hurricane before and are wanting the thrill. Well, being on an island like that, you may be facing a thrill I hope you'll live to regret.

    August 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. raven

    Did anyone else have thier format change for logging on here yesterday ?what a pain. I thought maybe it was cuz of the quake? anyway Im glad its back to (ahem)normal around here .

    August 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Doris Anderson

    I am a travel agent and my son and his wife (in Silver Spring MD) were booked for the Atlantis to arrive yesterday. I promptly went to work to postpone the trip even though people were advising me they would be alright. Shortly after I managed to get them postponed (They are so glad they had a travel agent for sure), the earthquake shook them up. Can you imagine how little they could have enjoyed their trip given all this stuff happening especially since they were leaving their 3 and 4 year olds home with grandmother.

    How are things down there now? Praying for all of you,

    August 24, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. no big DEAL

    ANY free trade agreements broken? EXACTLY... why so serious then?

    ANY of the FREE TRADE agreements broken? NOPE...

    Relax... buy stock.... its good for your endorphins...and the dolphins also !!!

    August 24, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. adam

    At Bahamas we invite you to explore all of the islands in Bahamas . After you reach in any islands of Bahamas you’ll realize the beauty of each island extends far beyond our extraordinary natural wonders. We guarantee smiles on your faces, enjoy every moments of your life with the Bahamian. A colorful world is waiting to congratulate you.

    October 16, 2011 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |