By LEANDRA ROLLE
CHAIRMAN of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority John-Michael Clarke said yesterday the authority will be working with the Department of Social Services to determine a solution to provide “temporary” housing in Abaco for displaced shelter victims living in New Providence.
“...As you know the (Department of) Social Services has moved out of the Kendal G L Isaacs Gym and the residents are now housed at the Poinciana Inn. They are there for a period of 90 days,” he told reporters yesterday.
“In Abaco, we’ve actually still cleared the land and made preparations for the family relief centre so we still have the big tents and between now and the end of the 90-day period, we will be working with social services to come up with a solution for temporary relief in Abaco.”
Mr Clarke made the statements when asked by reporters yesterday for an update concerning the government’s family relief centre.
The initiative was established after Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September, destroying homes and displacing thousands.
Asked who will be eligible to live in the family centre, Mr Clarke listed residents who are still living in shelters in the capital as those who fit the criteria.
“Well, as a matter of policy, those persons that are still sheltered and those persons that have no property or any other place to go in Abaco, the same criteria that was (put) in place at the beginning of the disaster, that criteria will remain for those that are eligible for the family relief centre.
“And those are essentially the persons that are in shelters now.”
It is not clear, however, when the relief centre in Abaco will start housing hurricane survivors on the storm affected island.
“Originally, the family relief centre was being designed to take up to 1,000 persons,” Mr Clarke told reporters yesterday.
“I understand that there are just under 300 persons who are still in shelters. That is my understanding… but, we will make sure that whatever we do it is adequate for the number of persons that need to be sheltered.”
As it relates to the dome structures on the island, Mr Clarke said that 32 of the government’s domes in Spring City, Abaco are expected to be made available to residents in the community by February 20.
The remaining domes, Mr Clarke said, will be installed in other communities throughout the island and on the properties of residents, which fit the criteria established by the DRA. “The strategy has totally shifted from where we began and having all the domes in one place so now we’re going to put them on properties,” he told reporters yesterday.
“I got a call last week from the contractor who said there was a need for 20 domes in North Abaco. So, we’re pursuing that, and we want to put the domes where people want the domes.
“They are free, but they are also temporary so they’re not meant to be a replacement house and I think there is a lot of confusion and trepidation about that as well.
“What we’re doing in addition to the domes is that we are actively pursuing permanent housing solutions even though the dome has a certain resilience.”
One of those solutions, according to Mr Clarke, includes developing potential sites in Abaco as new subdivisions.
“…There are two 60-acre tracks that will be open for development for private developers locally and international developers who may want to provide resilient home solutions.”
“The new development, that will be done in consultation with the stakeholders in Abaco and that’s a part of our new reconstruction resilient solution for the island of Abaco. One is in Wilson City and one is just a mile north of Spring City, I’m told. ...Right now we’re planning for permanent homes and we’re planning for permanent homes with the view that we will actually get people back into permanent living spaces and they won’t have to rely on the domes for 15 – 24 months.”
Asked how much money has been spent on the post-Dorian recovery efforts thus far, Mr Clarke said he could not give an estimate.
However, he added: “It varies...that varies because December 1, the Reconstruction Authority has its own budget and spending so at this particular time, I can’t say (but) I can say ...collectively, I know that we haven’t spent more than 30 million as yet on the ground.”
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