By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Abaco lost more than $60m in rental income during the 28 months immediately after Hurricane Dorian due to the devastation inflicted on its housing stock, it was revealed yesterday.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in its latest assessment of the catastrophic storm’s impact, said economic losses are continuing to be incurred and will only likely cease by the 2022 third quarter - some three years after it struck Abaco and Grand Bahama.
“Full recovery is assumed to occur by September 2022,” the IDB’s ‘at a glance’ assessment asserted. “Housing was the sector most severely affected by Hurricane Dorian.
“Houses and residences suffered significant damage to the structural elements, roofs, flood damage and other components of the buildings. Approximately 9,000 homes and in excess of 11m square feet of structures have sustained some damage on the two islands.”
Most of the economic losses were concentrated in Abaco. Just $4.064m in rental income, split between 1,917 dwellings, was said to have been lost in Grand Bahama as compared to the $60.95m spread over 5,422 residences that has been foregone in Abaco over the past two years and four months.
The IDB report estimated that debris clean-up and demolition costs on Abaco amounted to $45.8nm, split into $33m for the former and $12.8m for the latter. Similar activities in Grand Bahama cost just $10.919m in comparison, split $7.855m/$3.063m between debris clean-up and demolitions.
The Bahamas’ transportation infrastructure was found to have sustained some $94.5m worth of damages, with airports incurring some $36.926m alone. Grand Bahama International Airport was said by the IDB to have suffered $25.071m worth of damage, while the figures for Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay were pegged at $9.83m and $2.025m, respectively.
“Transportation infrastructure is crucial for The Bahamas’ economy since it provides connectivity and mobility between and within islands, and in the context of disasters, it provides an essential role for the reconstruction of other infrastructures and provides access to other critical services such as medical services, power generation facilities, and shelters, among others,” the IDB said.
“The estimated transportation infrastructure impact was approximately $94.5m for the whole country.” Some $37.208m of that figure represents losses suffered by airports and ports on Abaco and Grand Bahama over the past three years due to Hurricane Dorian’s impact.
Abaco’s ports and airports suffered losses of $6.578m and $10.47m, respectively, while those for Grand Bahama’s airports and ports were equivalent to $7.631m and $6.253m.
The IDB, in its initial November 2019 assessment of Hurricane Dorian’s economic impact, found that the Category Five storm had inflicted a combined $3.4bn in losses and damages - a sum that was greater than 25 percent of the country’s economic output.
“Abaco suffered 87 percent of the damage and Grand Bahama 13 percent,” the IDB’s initial report said. “Losses are estimated at $717.3m and were sustained primarily in the private sector, which accounted for 84 percent of the total. Seventy percent of the losses took place on Abaco, 15 percent on Grand Bahama, and nine percent on the other islands.
“Additional costs add up to $220.9m; 46.4 percent of those costs were in the environment sector and are associated with the cleaning of the oil spill. A major part of the remainder of the additional costs is related to debris removal and demolition.”
The IDB estimated that 29,472 people were affected by the hurricane because of some sort of damage to their homes and assets. It also said damage to the tourism infrastructure was $530m.
“On this occasion, the forecasted losses are less than the damage and amount to $325m,” the multilateral lender said. “They are related to the disruption in the flow of tourists as a result of the storm, and a changed public perception due to the damaged structures. Most of the losses will be accrued in the high season of 2019 and 2020, tapering off as the recovery is expected to gain momentum.
“In the upcoming years, the country will face difficult questions of whether to relocate coastal populations and how to smartly invest in more resilient infrastructure. It is, therefore, imperative for The Bahamas, as a country, to establish a comprehensive approach to meeting these challenges and to incorporate considerations for disaster risk management into all features of national development.”
In the health sector, the IDB estimated damage to infrastructure, medical equipment, furniture, supplies and others at $37.7m. Health services operations disruption was pegged at $21.4m. With respect to educational facilities, damage amounted to $72m, with public sector institutions expected to incur costs of $74m.