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Hurricane Wiped Out 836 Homes

Damage on Crooked Island. Photo: Shantelle Nicole

Damage on Crooked Island. Photo: Shantelle Nicole

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Perry Christie said yesterday the government plans to simultaneously rebuild the hurricane-ravaged Family Islands where an estimated 836 homes were completely destroyed.

Mr Christie said based on information from the Department of Social Services, Hurricane Joaquin wiped out 413 homes in Long Island, 227 houses in San Salvador, 123 homes in Acklins, 50 houses in Crooked Island and 23 residences in Rum Cay.

However, Mr Christie suggested that the numbers could increase as teams continue to assess the damage to homes and provide assistance to impacted and displaced families.

Last week, the nation’s leader said an initial estimate of the costs of damage due to Hurricane Joaquin was already at $60m and was expected to rise as the additional assessments came into the Ministry of Finance.

While he has stated the government will most likely borrow money to assist with rebuilding, he revealed yesterday that the government has received grants to assist with the effort. The most recent grant was $1.7m from the Japanese government through its Japanese Aid Programme.

The prime minister yesterday spoke about this matter in the House of Assembly and the progress made on the southern and central islands since the passage of the category four storm earlier this month.

“This is a continuing exercise,” Mr Christie said, “and based on their (the assessors) findings, the government will respond in kind as a part of the work of the National Restoration and Recovery Unit. This will be done in the shortest possible time as the primary consideration of my government is to house and restore the physical comforts of our citizens.”

He continued: “Mr Speaker, I have met personally with the leaders of these teams, the engineers from the Ministry of Works and all the technical people of the government with the view to indicating that the intention of the government, Mr Speaker, which is to restore these matters in the shortest possible time and that we want to have a comprehensive approach to restoration, not one island at a time, but all islands at the same time.

“So, Mr Speaker, I expect as these teams come in that works will commence, in fact work has already commenced on some islands.”

The Department of Housing, he said, has provided designs of houses constructed following previous hurricanes, however, the foundation designs have to be adjusted to account for higher flood levels experienced during Hurricane Joaquin. Local contractors will be given the opportunity to construct the homes in the various Family Islands.

Mr Christie said as the efforts begin, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has purchased five “homes on wheels” that can each accommodate three adults or two adults and two children. Additionally seven mobile trailer homes were procured that are able to accommodate six to 10 persons.

The temporary units will be assigned to families and government employees on the affected islands who have been displaced due to the destruction of their homes or rental units while the construction of permanent replacements are completed.

Telecommunications

Immediately after the passage of Hurricane Joaquin, BTC discovered that 59 of its cell sites were off line that negatively affected 59 communities in the central and southern islands.

However, over the last two weeks, BTC has been able to restore services to all islands except south Long Island where two cell sites are down in the settlements of Roses and Mortimer’s. This is due to downed poles that are hindering the restoration of normal services, Mr Christie said.

He said at the moment there are no fixed Internet services to the south of Clarence Town, but work is continuing.

In Acklins, all sites are still down and dishes have been destroyed. Mr Christie said in Lovely Bay residents are able to make cellular calls using the site at Crooked Island. Also in Long Cay the dish on the cell tower needs to be re-aligned.

Family Island airports

The Department of Civil Aviation, Mr Christie said, has confirmed that all airports in the islands affected by Hurricane Joaquin are open for normal operations, although some terminal buildings suffered damage.

The last to be re-opened was Deadman’s Cay Airport in Long Island, which was opened for service on October 9.

He said the Department of Civil Aviation is continuing to carry out assessments on the conditions of the airports in the affected areas with a view towards any immediate remediation that may be necessary.

Social Services

In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, Mr Christie said the Department of Social Services deployed four teams consisting of 14 social workers to conduct rapid initial damage assessments and assist with distribution of food and water to the severely affected islands.

The team deployed to Rum Cay conducted assessments on 29 homes, but were unable to process any of the winter residents whose homes may have been affected. He said the social workers are still compiling data on the number of residents by gender – this includes 10 school age children.

In San Salvador the team assessed 216 homes and counted 62 unoccupied homes. There are 227 students on the island, however, five have relocated to the capital.

During assessments in Crooked Island, the department processed 25 homes. Sixteen people remain in the clinic, as their homes are inhabitable.

There are seven homes remaining in Long Cay, which had 24 persons.

Mr Christie said long-term accommodations need to be identified for them along with the other residents whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

In Acklins, social workers completed 107 assessments. This does not include the persons whose homes were destroyed. They are in the process of compiling their data.

A team was deployed for Long Island on October 5. The team reported that the island was severely damaged which resulted in many homes being destroyed.

Mr Christie said it was difficult for the social workers to obtain an accurate count of all the families and homes that were affected by Hurricane Joaquin. However, they continue to process and compile information on the number of men, women and children affected.

Mr Christie said with respect to the restoration and recovery of vital state owned infrastructure, the Ministry of Works and its Urban Planning Department has completed its initial survey of damage, including roads, causeways and bridges and other government installations, including schools, clinics, and official residences.

He said he was in the process of analysing this report to decide on further action.

Staff from the Ministry of Housing are currently reviewing the assessments and compiling lists of building materials required for repairs in the affected islands.

Mr Christie said NEMA is also sourcing building materials which will be shipped to the Family Islands to be distributed to persons who have requested and qualified for assistance with building materials only or for building materials and labour.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force will assist with some of the smaller repairs and NEMA is compiling a list of contractors and skilled construction craftsmen in the various Family Islands who will be able to assist with labour for repairs.

The technical staff of the Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction Unit with the help of other government agencies is compiling the list of homes that will have to be constructed to accommodate those persons whose homes were destroyed and have no source of permanent shelter.

Mr Christie said it is expected that there will be a close liaison between all of these engineering teams to ensure that there is no overlapping and more importantly that nothing falls between the cracks.

Comments

Economist 2 years, 12 months ago

If we are going to rebuild then build to higher wind standards like sustained 150 mph with ability to withstand 3 second gusts of 180 mph.

If we don't we will be reading about this again in a few years time.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 12 months ago

I also recollect the PM being only too quick to come to the defense of tax dodgers and dead beat debtors like Ishmael Lightbourne and Lady Poodling. In the case of Ishmael Lightbourne the PM readily admitted that he had phoned the managing director of CIBC First Caribbean Bank in an effort to wrongfully intercede in that bank’s seizure by mortgage foreclosure proceedings of Ishmael Lightbourne’s seaside mansion on West Bay Street. No doubt Christie would have been similarly inclined to contact certain members of BOB’s board of directors and senior management in order to intercede in the making of loans and advances on very generous terms to his political friends and business cronies. All of these shenanigans on the part of Perry Christie clearly evidence that he has a very twisted moral compass by any standard. It is therefore absolutely frightening to think that this warped man has cabinet responsibility as both PM and Minister of Finance for our country's financial affairs. Now he wants the taxpayers of this country to bear the cost of rebuilding homes of PLP supporters destroyed by Hurricane Joaquin because his government has failed to produce the jobs these PLP supporters should have had to pay home insurance premiums or bear the cost themselves of rebuilding their own homes. While it is right for the taxpayers of this country to bear the costs of temporary emergency relief measures to help their fellow Bahamians suffering in the Southern Bahamas, it wrong for Christie to use our tax dollars to buy them homes (some no doubt will have central air conditioning and swimming pools they did not have before) in exchange for them voting PLP in the next general election in order to keep the likes of Alfred Gray in the House of Assembly!

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TruePeople 2 years, 12 months ago

well 60M$ ballpark -> 836 Homes = 71,770$ per residence

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newcitizen 2 years, 12 months ago

You forgot to take off 50% for political lunched so only $30,885 for each house

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EnoughIsEnough 2 years, 12 months ago

I really hope our govt is not planning on paying for the cost of these homes to be rebuilt. That is not their responsibility nor is it the responsibility or burden of the tax payers. It is a horrible thing to think of so many without homes but honestly, who can justify us rebuilding for people? We can certainly provide assistance for temporary shelter and can alleviate the cost by allowing for tax and duty exemptions but... no more than that. Govt should focus on repairing govt owned facilities only. These homeowners should have insurance to cover their properties, and if they don't, then why is that our burden to bear? all of my hard working friends and family pay to insure their homes, their cars, their belongings. I have been to all of the islands that were hit and I have seen many of these "homes" - a lot of them were wooden shacks, built in areas they should not have been built. These were not proper, structured, concrete homes. this is so damn frustrating!!! Let the private sector, and the churches, and the charities pitch in to help. But not the government and our tax dollars...

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3Stormsin5Years 2 years, 12 months ago

Why a socialist can justify it, of course. They don't know how to spread prosperity around, only misery, so long as they get a cut and some votes!

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SP 2 years, 12 months ago

.. Perry Christie proved flat footed and incapable of prioritizing in the national interest ..

PM Christie's telling inability at being ambidextrous is greatly highlighted under pressure and a major disability.

Ultimately, the very first assessment should have been to determine immediate assistance requirements of impacted human lives and displaced families.

If this were done, we wouldn't now be faced with this totally unnecessary ongoing dire situation of already traumatized, scared people still suffering 3 weeks after the fact in Crooked Island and no doubt other areas as well.

What was Christie's first priority, preserving human life and alleviating suffering, or the restoration cost of roads, electricity and bridges?

National restoration and recovery assessments although vital and extremely important, should be second tier after every soul is accounted for and deemed secured.

Running around from Island to Island and announcing a projected $60M restoration cost before the completion of the still ongoing comprehensive assessments was callous, untimely, foolhardy, and will result in donors not being as forthcoming as capable based on Christie's erroneous estimates.

Governments shortsightedness and ignorance blinds them to the fact to deal with a natural disaster causing widespread destruction and massive devastation over such a large area the best workable solution approach has to be from both furthermost North and South flanks working towards meeting in the middle.

If this were done Crooked Islanders or NOBODY else would have been left uncared for today!

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newcitizen 2 years, 12 months ago

When the storm first appeared of the coast, rebuilding costs and the chance to steal and siphon off the money was the first thing the PM thought about. Why do you think they didn't issue any warnings? All they saw was the green of the rebuild. The government doesn't care one bit about the people on those islands and whether they lived or died.

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asiseeit 2 years, 12 months ago

So buy rights when the big one hits Nassau (not if but when), will government pay to rebuild the capitol? These assholes are just trying to get reelected and spout utter nonsense. I feel for the people down south but why should every Bahamian have to build houses for a select few. If my house burns down are you going to do the same for me? I somehow doubt that would ever happen. This asshole PLP government is just trying to buy votes with the peoples money, nothing more, nothing less. They are not fair, balanced, moral, or ethical, they are criminal!

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jusscool 2 years, 12 months ago

This has to be the lowseyest Government in the history of the Bahamas. The Chinese new what was going on in the Bahamas with the hurricane but never offered a red cent , But our Government wants to put their tails behind their backs and beg the Chinese for money. Mr. Prime Minister where is your Brain. Are u sitting on it?

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Reality_Check 2 years, 12 months ago

Rumours are circulating that Arawak Homes, i.e. Franky Wilson (aka Snake), and another muck-a-muck PLP general contractor, will be getting generous government contracts to rebuild most of the 800+ homes destroyed by Hurricane Joaquin. Does anyone know if this is true?

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