Abaconians ‘fed up’ with disaster authority


Tribune Staff Reporter


DESPITE promises from the Disaster Reconstruction Authority that all commitments will be honoured, Abaco residents say they are fed up.

They just want to hear back from the agency about when its Small Home Repair Programme will resume because its suspension is only further delaying the rebuilding efforts there.

The programme, which was launched last February, was suspended after concerns were raised by suppliers in September about not receiving payments from the agency.

Since the initiative was placed on hold, many locals have expressed frustration with the DRA, questioning when the programme will continue, allowing them to receive much needed home supplies.

Rochelle Albury, of Marsh Harbour, is one of them. Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Ms Albury said that after her 70-year-old father lost his home to Hurricane Dorian they applied to the DRA in the hope of securing help in rebuilding.

However, despite being approved by the agency, the resident said her father has yet to receive the promised assistance.

“My father is a senior,” she said. “He got approved for the (voucher) which was ten grand after his home was destroyed and he hasn’t gotten the first piece of lumber. I have cleaned up my dad’s yard twice. He has no income and you still have tons of people still living with other people, some living in tents. My dad was also approved for a dome and he never even got it because that’s on hold.”

The situation, Ms Albury said, has left residents frustrated and uncertain.

“(The DRA) called me this week and was like ‘how’s it’ going’ and I was like ‘what do you mean, how’s it’s going?’ I said ‘y’all have the (programme) on lock’ because y’all didn’t pay your bills and the lady said ‘that’s going to be corrected shortly, probably within the next week’ and I’m still waiting.”

She added: “This government has just been so hopeless for Abaco. I think they should do something more for the elderly like my daddy and single mothers because you could pick through the town and you have your few that need extra help.”

Junior Menard, of Hope Town, also does not feel optimistic that the agency will be able fulfil all of its promises to the Abaco people, pointing to the DRA’s failure to finish its repair programme among other things.

“The DRA has failed us and the government, in that regard,” he said. “It’s actually appalling what they did. They came around. These people had this big press conference, community meeting for Abaco from months ago and a lot of people got 50 percent of the money that was promised to them and they’re still living in other people’s homes and the DRA has not honoured that.

“Then the government keeps coming forth saying they’re going to make the difference, but I don’t think that that’s going to happen. This is definitely slowing down the rebuilding process in mainland Abaco and now mind you, Hope Town is a little different because we have a lot of second homeowners here and so they had a lot of insurance money that poured into the community and that helped us come along really well. But on the mainland, it has come to a screeching stop.”

Last month, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness Iram Lewis told reporters that officials needed to acquire more than $13m to fulfil its current obligations to those who were approved for repair help.

At the time, he said officials were actively working towards the goal and were seeking to get the approval it needed from the Cabinet.

When contacted by The Tribune on the matter earlier this month, DRA Chairman John-Michael Clarke said DRA officials were still working to secure the finances needed to complete the programme and planned to give an update on when the payouts will be made near the end of this month.

He told The Tribune: “We’re working towards getting the necessary financial resources to continue the small home repair programme and we understand the delay and we want the people to know that as soon as we’re able to address the delay with resources in hand, we have every intention of making sure that every vendor is paid and every appeal issued is honoured and we will give an update on the status of that before the end of the month.

“So, we will let people know exactly where we are and we’re not still making promises that by the end of the month, you’ll be able to do something. We’re only saying we will be able to tell you definitively by the end of the month what the situation is realistically, but in the interim, we are, as we stated in December, we are trying to secure the necessary resources for the completion of that programme and the temporary shelter programme. Those two programmes are going.”

There are some residents who are calling for more transparency from the DRA, questioning how the funds are being spent.

“I’ve been asking for a breakdown of the funds,” said Roscoe Thompson, chairman of the Marsh Harbour/Spring City Town Council. “You got domes sitting out there that haven’t been given out. There’s millions of debris out in the Spring City site (that needs to be managed) and we’re still moving debris from people’s yards.

“I mean why did they even form a ministry and waste that five to seven million dollars in salaries that could’ve been used via NEMA? Why didn’t they just revamp NEMA and use local government. You have hotel licensing, you have port, you have town planning, all of these are under local government.”

According to the DRA chairman, the agency plans to publish a comprehensive report detailing its expenditure by next month.


TalRussell 3 years, 5 months ago

  • Comrade Abacoians, still evaluating, how was come about have given this Salam Mr. Minnis, his set South and North Abaco's redshirt MP Twins -


DDK 3 years, 5 months ago

SICKENING! SICKENING! SICKENING! These are people's lives we are talking about. The lying government members simply do not care. They have plenty of money to throw on what they want to waste it on, usually contracts, useless committees, their precious civil servants and of course, their own deep pockets.

TalRussell 3 years, 5 months ago

Comrade DDK, Abaco, has the colony's only graveyard were Mr. Minnis, burred 60 victims of Hurricane in graves, identified, only by NUMBERS..

TigerB 3 years, 5 months ago

Not sure how this works... we had the same hurricane in Freeport.. my place was thrash, I just claim from my insurance... so the Government is at fault now for not handing out what we are responsible for our selves? I\ We need to stop depending on the government for handouts.

FrustratedBusinessman 3 years, 5 months ago

Most of these people didn't have hurricane insurance, or if they did, were stiffed. Know a guy who had his company only give him a 50% payout because he had part of a wall still standing. 10k (if you got the full amount) isn't diddly squat to even begin rebuilding your life with, but it certainly would do something to help these people out.

Hoda 3 years, 5 months ago

...I guess after you repair your home in hurricane alley again with no insurance it will be the govts responsibility to ensure you have enough stacks to rebuild your life again. Should they provide enough money for marble countertops and Spanish tiles. How much is enough?

FrustratedBusinessman 3 years, 5 months ago

Normally I would agree with you that it is not the governments responsibility to worry about private property, but this is a once in a generation storm that completely destroyed pretty much everything on Abaco at the very least, not sure how badly Grand Bahama may have fared. Abaco has contributed millions to the Treasury ever year and received very little in return outside of anything done under the Ingraham administration years, $10,000 is the least that can be done to help our #2 and #3 largest sources of revenue to get back on their feet.

Put it like this, 90% of Nassau would have been dead if Dorian were to have landed there. Itsy bitsy Hurricane Matthew had the entire south flooded, so I wouldn't talk about something on the scale of Dorian. I have heard a lot of hatred and vitriol directed towards Abaconians over the past summer (part of it is to do with race, old wounds never heal), but Nassau better get on it's knees and beg God that they never know what Abaco is living through. No power and water in some areas almost a year and a half after Dorian; Nassuavians wouldn't be able to survive in such conditions. Today it is Abaco and Grand Bahama, tomorrow it could be Nassau. Important for Nassuavians to remember it could be them one day, doesn't hurt to lend a helping hand to people who have lost everything.

Hoda 3 years, 5 months ago

I live in Grand Bahama.

Abaco was not the first island to be hit by hurricane. Abaco is not the only island that contributes. That’s not the point. The point is how do we logically and sensible argue at the same time that Dorian was a once and a lifetime hurricane when it’s convenient for us. Then dismiss the argument when we wish to complain about how fast our private homes that we built or were living in with no insurance should be rebuilt by the public. If u accept that 3 billion in damages occurred- numbers quoted by intl bodies, since we don’t trust govt - pray tell where is 3 billion dollars coming at the snap of a finger to repair everything. No one has a problem with abaconians but I find is strange how they - Bahamians - seem to only want to politicize what they describe as a once and a lifetime storm. Is that a tactic to get what we want? I don’t know. As if the govt being different would change that reality. As if the govt being different would make 3 billion dollars appear. Furthermore, maybe I am not jaded as yet, but why would the govt intentionally not want to help if they could? I’m pretty sure I am younger than you but I find it disturbing how Bahamians of a certain age just insist on politicizing everything. We are just as bad the Americans at this point - narcissistic, emotionally unhinged, only prepared to blame others for our problems when life takes a turn. Furthermore, abaconians were the ones talking about their all powerful second home owners and what they were gonna do for the island.

FrustratedBusinessman 3 years, 5 months ago

Dorian is a once in a lifetime hurricane, that is a fact. Even Floyd was minor in comparison to the damage and destruction Dorian wrought. I don't think that the government has a responsibility to pay for everyone's home to be fully reconstructed, but I do believe that some help is in order. It is either you help tens of thousands of people get back on their feet, or you have to deal with them being homeless. Insurance isn't some big end all where the problem just goes away either, know plenty cases where people got stiffed by their companies on the payout. As a matter of fact, many agencies are refusing to issue policies for anything even remotely near the waterfront anymore, which is a big hassle for the second homeowner market.

I think you are severely underestimating how poorly managed the government's response to Dorian was on Abaco. I have family there, and the RBDF took days to even check if they were alive. The first people to check on them were actually UN lol. Do you understand that there is still no running water or power to certain parts, almost a year and a half after passage of the storm? That in and of itself is a massive failure. This government, and the ones that preceded it, are completely incompetent at anything infrastructure related, and even worse, hinder Abaconians who want to go independent. It was amazing how quick the government moved to restore power to certain communities after the second homeowners began importing the necessary infrastructure to give certain communities their own independent electrical grid. The second homeowners have been an aboslute Godsend for the communities that they live in, certain areas only had access to running water, shelter, and electricity because of them. I don't think it is a matter of politicizing as you believe, but just a matter of how horrendous conditions were/are there, with the government not doing diddly squat to fix it for months. Even the trailer debacle was nothing short of poor management from the government. If they were just going to take DNA samples and chuck the bodies in the ground, they could have done that from the later parts of 2019. According to Dr. Sands (when he was Minister of Health), they were supposed to be collecting the samples from right after the storm passed. Almost one year later with nothing collected, so you just chuck them in the ground? Disgraceful. Even then, family members had positively IDed some of those bodies, but the government refused to turn the bodies over for private burial. The government deserves nothing more than an F for how they have managed the aftermath of Dorian on Abaco. An all around failure that has cost them the single Abaco seat that they are going to create when the boundaries are soon redrawn.

Hoda 3 years, 5 months ago

So can you answer a simple and straightforward question that gets to the crux of the issue? do you honestly and realistically think in this climate the govt has the money to help ten of thousands of people rebuild their home and is simply choosing not to? The dra is a government entity like all govt entities they only have money the govt gives them. Does bpl and the ministry of works who is responsible for power and infrastructure have money and is choosing not to spend it? Does social services and nib who is responsible for helping people have money and is choosing not to spend? Do you believe water and sewage who is the next entity responsible for relevant infrastructure has money and is not spending it? Do you hold dr sands and ministry of health accountable for those bodies? In my opinion he has yet to take responsibility for his role as minister at the time. I have no issues with laying criticism but this article is misleading and clear has some agenda, either it’s political or an attempt to sell newspapers, as this whole saga has been in my opinion. From independence cabinet decides what money goes where, so how do these issues lay at the feet of the dra? Until ppl are prepared to have conversations that are not politically motivated and convulted there will not be any swift and efficient progress.

FrustratedBusinessman 3 years, 5 months ago

I don't know how bad it is/was on Grand Bahama, but Abaco has been a nightmare to live on since Dorian passed. Besides all of the above, lawless and anarchy are the norm; you can literally kill someone and get away with it. Breakins and theft is common, and while the government has tried to remedy some of these issues in the past few months, much more remains to be done. It will take Abaco decades to recover from the damage that Dorian has wrought, with or without government assistance.

Hoda 3 years, 5 months ago

Also, I believe insurers may have cheated people. But also believe and know from first hand experience many people under insure their homes to keep the payments low and then want to complain about the payout. I received full payout from my credible insurer to repair my roof that did not require an additional dime from me, I am lucky I guess. Also, if the insurers cheats u why not sue, why is the first instinct to blame the govt. It’s difficult coming from North America then adapting back to Bahamians approach to everything.

lovingbahamas 3 years, 5 months ago

Gee-what a shock! The government didn’t have the money they promised! Gee-another shock! They aren’t paying their bills. But, if you don’t pay BPL they shut off your electricity! How can you believe ANYTHING this government says??

TalRussell 3 years, 5 months ago

The last thing that Comrade Mr. Minnis wants to surface is yet another major problem - like it's even possible for the redcoats to be pissin' off even more thousands of Abacoians any more than he and his North and South Abaco House-elected Redcoat MPs have fully oversubscribed to.
Unlike FREEporters who fall under a quasi foreign rule, the Abacoians have long had their own self-governing advisory body when it comes to down to how best deal with, and rid themselves of pressing nuisances.
The last thing that Mr.Minnis wants to happen is for Abacoians to sicced the Queen on him. Something he's gained firsthand experience with the time he got summoned up to Mount Fitzwilliam by the governor-general, thus becoming the very first ever since the colony's imposition as a Westminster model government - be fired whilst em was the leader of Her Majesty's government. Shakehead a quick once for Upyeahvote cannot just be making such nonsense up. Shake twice for Not?  twice for not?

TalRussell 3 years, 5 months ago

----------be fired whilst em was the leader of Her Majesty's "government in waiting."

birdiestrachan 3 years, 5 months ago

roc with doc wanted to give lewis and Smith money out of the treasury so he created jobs for them

Unecessary positions. that made no sense.

Hoda 3 years, 5 months ago

I wonder if the plp govt will make you a billionaire or at the very least happy enough that you are online talking about ppl behind an alias.

M0J0 3 years, 5 months ago

very sad situation for all involved hopefully some type of assistance can be given to those affected. As long as there are emergency orders the suffering will be long term.

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