By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Despite the challenges on Dorian stricken Abaco and Grand Bahama, more than $30m has been spent on clean up says the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) managing director.
Katherine Forbes-Smith, managing director of the DRA, told a webinar that the DRA has had a “big, big challenge with just how much debris had to be dealt with as a result of Dorian - both in the eastern end of Grand Bahama and generally around the city of Freeport and particularly in the Abacos and the cays.
She continued: “We have three debris management sites currently operational in Abaco, Treasure Cay, Spring City and Snake Cay and then of course, High Rock, Pelican’s Point and McLean’s Town in the eastern end of (Grand Bahama).”
Ms Forbes-Smith also said: “One of the things that has really been good for us is the fact that more than $30m has been spent but spent and stayed in the community with the overall clean up. We have also engaged more than 20 plus local Bahamian contractors who have been involved in the community clean up and I must say that a lot of people obviously in our country have not been involved in anything like this before in terms of a category five storm, but the point is is that Bahamians came on board and have been bringing some skillsets in other areas of construction but was able to really come to the forefront and do the work. That was a really good thing and it was important for us to keep the money in the community.”
Along with the $30m spent on debris clean up, some $3.4m has been spent through the Small Business Development Centre to help small business restart their operations
Ms Forbes-Smith also said that despite not “serving the surrounding areas,” marine clean-up is another part of her agency’s environmental plank in the Dorian clean up. “We have had a lot of NGO’s who have done some work in doing the marine clean-up, but it is difficult and while we focus on a lot of these priorities one of the difficult priorities has been getting to the marine clean up.”
Ms Forbes-Smith with regard to housing that some $10m has been allocated to the small home repair programme, with 3,099 approved home owners out of 4,314 registered home owners. She said that the $10m allocated “will not be enough” and that funding and financing is a “real problem”.
Due to the loss of a lot of homes and rental units in Abaco the government had to ensure that the government found temporary structures for persons to live in, with 150 temporary domes on Abaco and the Cays, 40 temporary domes in east Grand Bahama and an additional 20 container homes on Sweeting’s Cay.
“The medium term for us will be modular homes,” said Ms Forbes-Smith. Pointing to an architectural rendering of what Spring City Abaco is expected to look like with a subdivision outfitted with 100 modular homes, which will be called “Nelumbo Gardens”.
Ms Forbes-Smith added: “These modular homes are needed for basically, public service workers who need to be able to work in Abaco and quite frankly the 100 is probably not enough when you consider teachers and police officers, defence force officers and persons working in various public services offices we already know that this number needs to be closer to 200.”
The government has also given two 60 acre lots for mixed use development to the DRA for the construction of permanent housing in Abaco and Ms Forbes-Smith said: “We are right in the middle of looking at an RFP (request for proposal) for that. We hope to start construction on these sites in January, 2021.”