By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government will spend $6 million to construct a “family relief centre” in Abaco that will feature dome housing structures capable of withstanding 180mph winds, according to shelter organiser John-Michael Clarke.
He stressed yesterday that the temporary shelter is not a “tent city” because there will be no tents.
He said the centre will be built in a 20-acre area outside Spring City, a government subdivision south of Marsh Harbour and Murphy Town.
Mr Clarke said the domes come in two sizes, one that is 14ft and another 20ft, and they are made of polycarbonate material. He said the first batch of structures will arrive within a week.
“The domes were particularly ordered to provide relief to an area susceptible to additional storms,” he said. “This is something we thought out and researched. These domes will have two sleeping areas and a bathroom facility so it takes care of the living and sanitary needs within one unit. The first order is for just over 200 domes and we’re going to be looking to house just over 1,000 people with the first batch.”
Mr Clarke is the president and managing director of Veritas Consultants Limited, a company that provides project management and construction solution services.
Mindful that some Abaco residents are returning to their own properties, Mr Clarke said organisers have not ordered “too many” structures but have been discussing other temporary shelter options with the Ministry of Works for people who wish to stay on their property.
“We are talking to the Ministry of Works about possibly allowing modular homes as temporary structures,” he said. “The domes are a safe, secure temporary housing for people returning to Abaco who may need it and we wanted sustainable housing for them. They are maintenance free.”
Currently, 1,618 people are staying in government shelters in Grand Bahama and New Providence, according to a National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) report yesterday. NEMA also said it discovered 62 Haitians living in Mission Baptist Church in the Sand Bank community of Abaco on Sunday, including 40 adult men, 20 adult women, a five-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl. With the first batch of dome structures expected to house about 1,000 people, Mr Clarke noted that policy-makers will determine who gets to stay in the structures.
Consolidated Water (Bahamas) Limited has given organisers a generator to power the family relief centre, Mr Clarke said.
Last month, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said a man camp will be built in Abaco to provide living arrangements for people working to rebuild the island. “Man camp construction will be driven by the private sector and the government will make suitable arrangements to house public servants,” Mr Clarke said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest also told reporters yesterday that the government’s first order of temporary shelter units cost about $2.5 million.
“I know that in Abaco there is hopefully this week some accommodation for the government workers so that we can get the government systems back up and running and it’ll flow from there,” he said.
Attorney General Carl Bethel has said the temporary shelter space in Abaco will have a noticeable law enforcement presence. He said in the long term, the government wants basic housing units, “preferably on stilts to give better durability in storm conditions,” to be constructed.