Disney Cruise Lines denies stranding employees on Bahamian island during Hurricane Dorian
Over the weekend, as the storm hit the Bahamas in what Prime Minister Hubert Minnis called "a historic tragedy," claiming five lives on the Abaco Islands and flooding neighborhoods, outrage brewed on Twitter about conditions on the private island Castaway Cay. The Disney Cruise Lines port located 30 miles from Abaco is home to 60 full-time employees.
“My sister is stuck in the middle of a Cat 5 hurricane. We were told they would evacuate and they didn’t. Left them behind!! Why??,” Twitter user Meg Green wrote in a deleted-tweet, according to the Miami Times.
Later, she reportedly tweeted, “Remember that time [Disney Cruises] left 97 employees on a tiny island in a Catagory 5 hurricane? I do.”
Irish politician Anne-Marie McNally also blamed Disney Cruise Line for “endangering” the lives of employees.
According to the Miami Herald, Kim Prunty, vice president, communications and public affairs at The Walt Disney Company, had tweeted to Green, “I understand your concern, as they are our co-workers. Castaway is south of the more significant weather. [Disney Cruise Lines] is in regular contact with island leadership and all are safe. Forecast calls for tropical storm force winds, which is what is there now. There are extensive measures in place to keep crew safe. A shelter on the island houses all crew and is stocked with a plentiful supply of food and water.“
Green reportedly tweeted back, “Why risk the lives of 97 staff members? They had plenty of time to evacuate, but the decision was made to stay.”
The Herald also reported that per a Disney staffer, removing employees from the island by way of boat and plane “would have been difficult.”
According to CBS 12, a Sunday statement posted to Disney’s website (that was later revised) read, “Many of our guests have asked questions about Castaway Cay. Some of our Crew remained on the island and their care and safety is our highest priority. We are in regular contact with island leadership, who is making sure our Crew is well taken care of in our storm shelter, which is designed for these types of situations and has restrooms, power and is well stocked with food and water. Castaway Cay remains south of the more significant weather and is currently experiencing tropical storm force winds, which based on the current forecast, are expected for the next several hours before gradually diminishing. Our thoughts are with the people in areas of The Bahamas that are being impacted by this storm and we stand ready to contribute to recovery efforts.”
The updated version reads, “As forecasted, sustained winds on the island did not extend beyond tropical force strength and our Crew has returned to their living quarters after spending a few hours in our storm shelter yesterday. Our thoughts continue to be with the people in areas of The Bahamas that are being impacted by this storm and we stand ready to contribute to recovery efforts.”
On Monday, the website read, “We continue to closely monitor the path and progress of Hurricane Dorian to ensure our guests enjoy safe and comfortable cruises, and to make certain our ships steer clear of the storm. The safety of our guests and crew is always our foremost concern. Since all tropical storms and hurricanes are inherently unpredictable, our plans may change from day to day based on the most current information. Please check this site often for the most up to date information.”
A Disney spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle that despite reports of the crew being stuck on Castaway Cay during a Category 5 storm, “The reality is that for several days before the storm, the forecast called for tropical storm force conditions on Castaway Cay and that is what was experienced on the island. There is a storm shelter on the island that is built to withstand CAT 5 conditions, but the island essentially experienced a tropical storm.”
The representative also discounted Twitter rumors, adding, “The social media comments were started by someone who shared false information (CAT 5 conditions on Castaway) and then deleted their post within a few hours. I understand people reacted on social media but they were reacting to false information and no media that I am aware of have talked to the original poster.”
The Orlando Sentinel reported that employees returned to their homes on Monday, which were not damaged by the storm.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: