Urban planning in The Bahamas needs to be “kicked up a notch” in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, former Bahamian Contractors Association President Leonard Sands told Guardian Business.
Sands explained that as the world contends with the effects of global warming, this country cannot continue to build structures as has been done in the past.
Sands said while Bahamian buildings have traditionally stood up to the high winds of hurricanes, the country has not been introduced to the type of storm surge seen during Hurricane Dorian.
“Now that we have this data, let’s go vertical,” Sands said.
“Everyone who was unscathed in Grand Bahama was in a two-storey building.
“There was nothing in our thought process that allowed us to anticipate 20-foot swells. What has been strongly planted in our head is that our buildings, for the most part, withstand the wind and withstand the rain.”
Sands contended that after experiencing the storm surge that was seen in Abaco and Grand Bahama, The Bahamas should look at more city-type structures, like multi-storey housing units.
He said single-storey housing units could simply lead to more destroyed houses in strong storms.
“We have to think about the evolution of this country for the next 46 years,” he said.
“Global warming is not going anywhere. Things are happening to this earth. Let’s not pretend this is not a real situation.”
Sands added that the government, as part of the national thinking moving into 2020, should spend $50 million on a network of purpose-built hurricane shelters across the islands that will be able to accommodate 1,000 people and withstand the kind of wind that was experienced during the passage of Hurricane Dorian – wind gusts of 220 miles per hour – and the kind of storm surge that was experienced.
“Whether you spend it, $50 million now or later, the reality is the challenge exists until you spend the money,” he said.