By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) issued coupons worth $1,000 to 25 Bahamians on Friday, the start of a programme to provide relief to the hundreds of people who suffered significant damage to their homes from Hurricane Matthew.
The first set of coupons are redeemable at Cartwright's Building Supplies, Community Hardware, Hanna's Plumbing and Henry Storr Electric. Hundreds could benefit from the coupon programme by the time it concludes in what officials hope will be December.
NEMA chief Captain Stephen Russell said that 100 homes were completely destroyed in Grand Bahama and 50 in North Andros. He said 500 homes received major damage in Grand Bahama and 500 received minor damage on the island.
Most of these people could benefit from the coupon programme. The programme to reconstruct homes completely destroyed by Matthew will begin by the end of the year.
To be eligible, the National Repair and Reconstruction Unit, a technical team of NEMA, must assess affected homes, using salaries to determine how much money people are eligible to receive.
Coupons are expected to range from about $100 to $1,000.
"Words cannot express the way I feel about this," Michelle Dean, one of the recipients of a $1,000 coupon, told The Tribune on Friday. "It's a real blessing because a lot of people can't afford it. Even though the hurricane is an act of God and is beyond man's control, we appreciate NEMA for stepping in and recognising that small things count."
Ms Dean's home suffered extensive damage, including to the roof, interior and structure. She said it would cost about $10,000 to fix all the damage.
Since the hurricane, she has not began reconstructing her home but thanks to Friday's coupon, she could start doing so soon.
Similarly, Muriel Symonette called the coupon a "blessing".
"A lot of people can't afford to do it on their own," she said. "I highly appreciate NEMA and the Bahamian public for caring for me in his way. My roof's shingles were gone and water came into my house. This money will go far to helping me and I hope I will fix all the damage that I have."