By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
MORE than 3,000 homes across Grand Bahama and Abaco still need to have repairs completed post-Hurricane Dorian, according to Katherine Smith, executive director of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority.
Ms Smith said some 3.5 million cubic yards of collected debris also needs to be reduced and sorted. She gave the update at a groundbreaking ceremony this week for a new $1m Bahamas Red Cross Centre in Grand Bahama.
Ms Smith commended the Bahamas Red Cross and its partners for their assistance to Grand Bahama and Abaco following Dorian.
She indicated that efforts are focused on recovery and reconstruction.
“The impact of Dorian was so significant and is still very much ongoing,” she said, releasing the latest DRA statistics.
She reported that there is a need to complete repairs of 3,735 homes between Grand Bahama and Abaco.
“Marine clean-up has to take place as second homeowners return to the mainland of Abaco. And while some debris has been removed from the McLean’s Town Dock, work must continue on the marine front, particularly in East Grand Bahama,” she added.
Ms Smith stressed there is a severe housing shortage, particularly for public officers and renters in Grand Bahama.
She added that critical infrastructure at the airport and hospital has to be replaced.
“We must now move toward recovery and reconstruction. The move toward recovery and reconstruction can only happen with the help and assistance of NGO organisations, like the Red Cross, and many NGOs that have supported the work in our community by taking on projects like this new building to be constructed,” Ms Smith said. “We cannot underestimate the work of the Bahamas Red Cross throughout this country,” she said.
The construction of the new Red Cross centre is underway following the recent demolition of the old two-story building structure after some six decades.
Bahamas Red Cross officials, joined by the Canadian Red Cross Society, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, gathered at the Jobson Avenue site on Tuesday to break ground for the first phase of two of three building blocks.
A 2,300 sq ft administrative office building and the second block, consisting of a warehouse and commercial kitchen totalling 900 sq ft, are expected to be completed in November at a cost of some $700,000.
Funding for the first phase project was made available through the Canadian Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent.
For the second phase, some $300,000 in funding is needed to construct a 1,700 sq ft multipurpose hall that will double as a shelter if the need arises.
Terez Curry, president of the Bahamas Red Cross Society, said, “The ceremony signifies the closing of the largest disaster recovery project undertaken… but also brings a new day through the establishment of new infrastructure to support the needs of Grand Bahama.”
She said the previous two-story structure that was built in the 1960s was damaged mainly during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and again during Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
Ms Curry explained that structural assessments revealed major concerns and recommendations were made for the building to be demolished.
The building was torn down on January 13. A new three-building block was designed by Architectural Design Ideas. Pinnacle Investment Construction is the general contractor.
She said Pinnacle was among the nine bid submissions, seven of which met the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s requirement. A building permit was granted by GBPA on February 10. The Port Authority had donated the land in the 1960s for the Red Cross in Grand Bahama.
Phase one is expected to be finished in the next seven months, and efforts are underway to acquire funding for phase two of the project.
Ms Curry also highlighted the tremendous assistance made by the Bahamas Red Cross in Grand Bahama and Abaco following Hurricane Dorian.
She reported that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescents societies and the Bahamas Red Cross shelter programme have assisted in rebuilding 500 homes under a homes-repair programme, 13 homes for persons with disabilities, and an additional 10 homes for persons who needed assistance with roof repairs. And for the rental assistance programme, they assisted 235 families, with a $700 rental allowance for six months, totalling $4,481,700 spent on shelter assistance.
Additionally, Ms Curry said the Bahamas Red Cross contributed $2.1 million through funds it raised directly to complete 210 homes between GB and Abaco.
She also stated that the Livelihood programmes in Grand Bahama successfully assisted 78 micro-small businesses, providing funding totalling $342,000, and through a partnership with the Small Business Development Centre assisted 25 business, providing funding totalling $100,000.