“Frances”, the 6th tropical depression that became the 4th hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic Season on August 26th, barrelled through The Islands of The Bahamas this past weekend, ranging from a Category 4 to Category 2 in the process.

Disaster preparedness measures were firmly in place, and some 48 hours later the jurisdiction’s financial services sector was “back in business”. Historically, The Bahamas has been able to weather hurricanes with minimum recovery delays, and virtually no impact on its international business services.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)is the coordinating agency for disaster preparedness, response and recovery. It has been widely commended for the mammoth undertaking associated with Hurricane Frances. Last month the local US Embassy announced that the United States and The Bahamas had entered into a joint venture for the establishment of a $1.2 million Disaster & Emergency Relief Centre. NEMA, currently housed in the Office of the Prime Minister, is to be housed in the new Centre.

The Nassau International Airport resumed full operation as of Sunday, September 5th, and cruise lines are scheduled to return to the Port of Nassau on their regular itineraries within the week. The major hotels and resorts in Nassau, Cable Beach and on Paradise Island sustained minimal cosmetic damage, and are fully operational, accepting reservations at this time. A release from the Ministry of Tourism noted that The Bahamas *”had fared much better than the predictions”* associated with such a dangerous hurricane.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services recently affirmed its ‘A-‘ long-term and ‘A-2′ short-term sovereign credit ratings on the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, noting that this takes into account the damage inflicted by Hurricane Frances. *(See separate news item)* In fact, S&P Credit Analyst Olga Kalinina said that the hurricane is expected to have no impact on either the attractiveness or financial health of The Bahamas’ international financial sector.