A model of the Family Relief Centre’s dome structure that will include plumbing, drainage, a sewer system, and electricity. Photos: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
By Leandra Rolle
FORTY of the government’s 250 dome structures in Abaco will be made available to displaced families “before” or by early January, according to Chairman of Disaster and Reconstruction Committee John-Michael Clarke.
In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Mr Clarke said the 40 domes, which can accommodate up to four to five people each, will be established in Spring City, a government subdivision south of Marsh Harbour and Murphy Town.
“The foundation for some of the domes in Spring City have already been built. Now we have dome material on the dock (in Abaco), which we hope to get cleared this week… and we’re going to try do some things to expedite the process of getting those domes constructed,” he said.
“(But) the target is to make the domes available as soon as possible and if not before January, (they will be ready) by early January.
As it relates to the remaining domes, Mr Clarke said those structures are expected to be completed by March 2020.
“We’ve started in Spring City and then we will go to Treasure Cay, Dundas Town, Murphy Town, Marsh Harbour, the cays and it is my understanding that some residents from those areas will be looking for domes as well. And then we want to do a survey in Grand Bahama,” he added.
“(But) by March, those 250 domes should be fully installed and that’s provided that the manufacturer of those domes is able to meet their timelines because they’ve given us certain timelines as well.”
The temporary housing initiative was established by the government after Hurricane Dorian ravaged Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September, destroying homes and displacing thousands.
However, it is still unclear which persons will be given top priority to live in the domes.
As of November 24, Department of Social Services officials reported that there were 585 people living in shelters in New Providence, with 457 in Kendal GL Isaacs Gym and 128 at Bahamas Academy.
But, according to the Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell, the government is hoping to have those shelters closed by the end of the year.
“From day one, we wanted to deactivate shelters as soon as practicably possible…we see numbers in our shelters decreasing to the point where I think it is now less than 600,” he told reporters last week. “We’re hoping that by the end of the year before the holidays that we could have all of those persons successfully transitioned back to an environment that they’re familiar with.”
Speaking to The Tribune on the matter yesterday, Mr Clarke maintained the Department of Social Services will determine the protocols for which persons will be allowed to enter into the family relief centre.
“Social Services have a criteria of who get into those domes. There’s a list of things. I can tell you that at the top of that list, I think it says that a person has to be a Bahamian and then they will also look at certain vulnerabilities,” he said.
“So there’s a criteria, (and) I can also you tell that persons who meet the criteria and qualify for assisted shelter, the government will do whatever it can to make sure those persons are accommodated.”
The $6.4m temporary dome city in Abaco is expected to accommodate about 1,000 people for two years.
But, if there is a greater demand for more domes, Mr Clarke said, the government will do whatever it can to assist those storm impacted victims.
“If there’s a greater need for more (domes), then we will investigate the need of getting more but we want to see how this first order goes really. But this is temporary and by no means are (these domes) meant to replace somebody’s house,” he said.