By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
PHASE Two of the Sweeting’s Cay Home Repair Project is underway to repair 14 homes damaged during Hurricane Dorian two years ago.
The project — which is being spearheaded by the Rotary Clubs on Grand Bahama, in partnership with TK Foundation — is expected to be completed over the next five to six weeks.
Phase One of the project was completed last week when nine newly built homes were turned over to residents on the cay. The first phase was funded at a cost of nearly $600,000 by the TK Foundation.
Rotarian Billy Jane Ferguson said Rotary is changing lives.
“We still have persons living in tents (on Sweeting’s Cay), and the plan is to help them,” she said. “We are hoping the donors will also come on board with phase three.”
In addition to providing aid and rebuilding homes for those in need, she said Rotary has also provided jobs and skills training to those unemployed in Grand Bahama, particularly in Seagrape, and Eight Mile Rock.
Ms Ferguson stressed that Rotary is committed to the Sweeting’s Cay project, along with the donors. On Saturday, she gave an update of the project to members of the Rotary Club of Grand Bahama.
“We are in phase two renovations of 14 homes on the cay,” she said. “We are changing lives; we… built nine homes and we signed off on those last week.”
The homes, which are 80 percent complete, cost some $64,000 each, including one-year homeowner’s insurance provided by Insurance Management.
Past Rotary assistant governor, Lisabeth Knowles, a member of the Rotary Disaster Relief Committee, reported that the initial budget was $541,000. However, due to unexpected events and circumstances, it went over budget by $47,000.
“We signed an MoU with TK Foundation, a private foundation, for $541,000. It was agreed that each of the nine homes would be built for $59,000 plus one-year insurance.”
Mrs Knowles noted that the additional $47,000 in funding received increased the cost to $64,000 per home.
Rotarian Darren Cooper, who oversees the Sweeting’s Cay project, said they were able to assemble a team of unemployed young men from Seagrape and Eight Mile Rock, for the home repair project.
“Shortly after Dorian, I was approached by Jimmy Smith, who told me that we need to get some of the young men off the streets and busy,” he said.
Mr Cooper said Team Seagrape was initially contracted to assist Rotary with “muck work” for elderly residents on Grand Bahama.
He said the team of men was kept on and assisted with Rotary’s mould remediation programme.
“It is 18 months later and the team is going…helping Rotary to impact so many residents on Grand Bahama island,” he said.
He said the project has been very challenging in terms of getting material and equipment which had to be transported to the cay.
“The team was eager and excited and we visited six times before we were convinced we could do it,” Mr Cooper said.
Contractor Cyril Harvey led the construction team, which completed construction one month ahead of schedule. The homes are built with government-approved plans and are four feet off the ground on concrete column beams, with hurricane impact windows. They can withstand major hurricanes.
Mr Cooper said the programme allowed the young men of Team Seagrape to gain construction skills.
James Sarles, chairman of the Rotary Disaster Relief Committee, said the committee has assisted and repaired over 1,000 homes and provided boat engines to affected fishermen.
“When we looked at Sweeting’s Cay, it was overwhelming the amount of devastation, and people living in tents. The TK Foundation, a private foundation based in Denmark, saw the devastation and called Rotary,” he said.
Despite the challenges, Mr Sarles said Rotary has got the job done and will continue to do what it can to assist residents of Sweeting’s Cay.