Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham told the nation Friday afternoon that Hurricane Ike is a very serious storm that must be taken seriously by The Bahamas.

Mr. Ingraham was addressing a nationally televised press conference held by The Bahamas’ National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and indicated that the press conferences are expected to be held daily through to the upcoming week and beyond as necessary.

Heads of various government agencies and Department of Meteorology also took part in the press conference, providing updates on the status of the country’s readiness ahead of Hurricane Ike.

Local forecasters reported that Ike should be “very near’ the Southern island of Mayaguana by early Sunday morning.

Mr. Ingraham said: “Persons in the Southern Bahamas should take seriously the warnings issued by the Department of Meteorology and complete their hurricane preparations forthwith.”

Islands of The Bahamas were drenched this week by Tropical Storm Hanna, which skirted the island chain Thursday. The Prime Minister advised that flooding has been reported in the North Abaco settlement of Sand Banks.

Mr. Ingraham, who represents the constituency of North Abaco, also advised that the Treasure Cay primary school in Abaco is completely flooded and is likely to be closed for some time.

Officials meantime reported minimal flooding and no serious damage in other islands.

Prime Minister Ingraham noted that the various agencies of the Government are ready to move into action ahead of Hurricane Ike, adding that Central Government authorities are pleased with the cooperation of Local Government authorities based in the islands outside the capital of New Providence.

Back in 1992, islands of The Bahamas experienced 23 ft. storm surges as a result of Hurricane Andrew; a category four storm at landfall. The Northern portions of the island of Eleuthera, as well as the island of Chub Cay were among those sustaining major damage due to Andrew.

Officials Friday said they expected The Bahamas to experience the same level of storm surge as a result of Hurricane Ike.

Prime Minister Ingraham assured that drainage systems in New Providence are being cleared ahead of Ike, and that Government agencies are continuing their assessments of food, water, electricity and transportation services in the various islands.

Mr. Ingraham, who also serves as Chairman of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), said he has made contact with Prime Minister of Jamaica Bruce Golding, whose country suffered causalities due to Hurricane Gustav.

The Prime Minister advised that he will be making contact with Turks and Caicos Island Premier Michael Missick later in the day, and that contact will also be made with President of Haiti Rene Preval to determine the assistance that can be provided in the aftermath of Gustav and Hanna.