ALEX STORR, (inset) executive chairman of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority, and an example of one of the dome homes in Abaco, pictured in 2019.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government will be providing monetary assistance to Abaco dome dwellers to assist with their relocation to permanent homes, according to Disaster Reconstruction Authority executive chairman Alex Storr.
Last month, Housing and Transport Minister Jobeth Coleby-Davis announced that the government was aiming to have the structures demolished and taken off the property by August.
The Tribune understands it is the government’s intention to develop several housing plots at the Spring City location.
When contacted for an update yesterday, Mr Storr was unable to say whether the demolition process had begun because he said the matter was being handled by the Ministry of Housing.
However, he said dome tenants were told they had until the end of this month to vacate the premises.
“A team has been formed with persons with the DRA, the Ministry of Housing, Social Services and the Prime Minister’s delivery unit and we met with the residents of the domes,” Mr Storr told The Tribune.
“We had individual meetings with each family last week and so we began the process and they were informed and told of the assistance the government will be giving them to help them transition from the domes.
“So, that process has begun so they have been given a date to move out, the 27th of this month.”
Mr Storr also assured that residents will not just be put out on the streets heartlessly by the Davis administration.
“Let me just say that Social Services will be giving them monetary assistance to help,” he continued. “But what the DRA is doing is whether they need to complete repairs to their house or whatever, we’re moving to expedite those repairs to help give them whatever assistance they need if they’re going to move back to their house to make sure that’s ready for them to do that.
“I think Social Services has arranged for them to get $4,000 to assist with any expenses to pay rent or do whatever they have to do to aid in their transition.”
Asked yesterday if he was satisfied that most families had alternative housing plans, he replied: “Surprisingly, just about everyone we met expected this day to come and so they had begun making some arrangements.
“The major issue is there is and I admit that there is a lack of rental units on the island and so we have begun in assisting in that aspect.”
He also said some dome dwellers had already completed repairs to their homes.
“They were actually renting their houses while living in the domes,” Mr Storr added, “So, like I said, each circumstance is different but I think the majority of them knew that this day was coming and probably understood the position that the government is in.”
Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco on September 1, 2019 as a Category 5 hurricane before barreling toward Grand Bahama.
The storm left thousands of homes either destroyed or damaged and hundreds of residents displaced.
To assist with rebuilding efforts, the Minnis administration spent more than $6m on nearly 200 domes that were supposed to be used as temporary housing for Abaco and Grand Bahama residents after Hurricane Dorian.
However, not all of those domes were erected.
Asked yesterday how the housing structures will be used moving forward, the DRA chairman said the authority was preparing to write to Cabinet with recommendations on how best to repurpose domes.
“We have not settled on exactly what we’re going to use the domes for but there have been a number of suggestions including distributing to the island administrators all across the country to use as storage,” he said.
“We have gotten proposals from some of the animal advocate agencies to use them as animal shelters and there are a lot of other things (or) uses that are coming to us so we plan to put something together to issue to Cabinet to get permission to repurpose the domes.”