By LEANDRA ROLLE
WITH 14 of the government’s 250 dome structures expected to be completed by Friday, Chairman of the Disaster and Reconstruction Committee John-Michael Clarke said yesterday the government is still in the process of determining who will be allowed to live in those domes.
“I can say that the Department of Social Services does have a list of persons that may qualify for these temporary housing …and the authority is vetting that list…so it’s just a matter of assigning priorities and making sure we can contact those persons and the domes are available for them,” he told reporters during a press conference at the National Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters yesterday.
“We will be meeting with the Department of Social Services this week because once the contractors have the domes erected, we can begin what we intended to do and that is get persons back on the island of Abaco repairing their properties and living in a comfortable space.”
But, in the meantime, Mr Clarke said people who want to live in these domes should register with the Ministry of Social Services.
“We’ve gotten inquiries and I know in Abaco, they are taking names at the NEMA office at the government complex, in Grand Bahama not so much,” he added.
“But we will be actively and aggressively engaging social services to get the proper applications information out. (And) applications for the domes can be made through the Department of Social Services.”
To date, there are currently 497 people living in shelters in New Providence, with 380 in Kendal Isaacs Gym and 117 in Bahamas Academy Gym, according to the Department of Social services.
But, last month, Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell revealed the government is hoping to have those shelters deactivated before the holidays.
It is still unclear, however, where shelter victims will be sent once remaining shelters are deactivated.
Speaking on the matter yesterday, Mr Clarke said: “We’re not going to put anyone outside, but we want to make sure that we have a reasonable and working solution both for the shelterees here in New Providence and for those who want to move back for Abaco..that’s one of the reasons why we want to engage social services this week to determine and look at what our original targets are and to determine what modifications needs to be made to those original targets so that we could accommodate the shelterees.”
Mr Clarke told The Tribune last week that the first 40 dome structures in Abaco will be open to displaced families “before” or by early January in Spring City.
The remaining domes, he said, will be completed by March 2020.
But, speaking at yesterday’s press conference, contractor at Brickell Management Group Philip Robinson said he is hoping to have the domes completed before the deadline, adding that the first dome structure in the Spring City was erected last weekend.
“My intention is to have 14 up by Friday… and with each dome, (it) will be fitted out with a bathroom. The bathroom will consist of a shower, sink and a toilet part and the rest of the space will be left open for the inhabitants to take over from there,” he continued.
“But our intention is to have 110 domes this side of Christmas on the island and the remainder to be on the island by the end of January. We are working through the Christmas period to keep moving forward.”
CEO of InterShelter Inc, Captain Don Kubley, manufacturer of the domes, also spoke about the many benefits of the structures during the press conference.
“We are as mobile as tents and as portable as tents and go up faster than many tents, but once our buildings are up, they’re immune to environmental challenges. . .they’re waterproof. They’re bug proof. They’re earthquake proof,” he said.
“They’re hurricane proof and they’re comfortable. One of the great things about them for transitional housing after a disaster like (Dorian) is you can stay and put one in front of their home and they can have a nice comfortable, warm safe place to be until their home is rebuilt.”
The $6.4m temporary dome city in Abaco is expected to accommodate about 1,000 people for two years.
In October, Mr Clarke said the government was considering charging dome city tenants a “nominal” fee for rent after the expiration of a free period.
When asked if persons will still be charged to live in the domes, he replied: “To be honest, we’re still working out some of the protocols where the entire length of stay will be free.
“At some point, you would have been heard that there was going to be a charge. None of those things as a matter of policy have been confirmed, but prior to anyone taking up residence in any of the temporary shelters, all those details would be ironed out.”