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Abaco small home repair office launched

MARSH HARBOUR – The Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority opened its Abaco Small Home Repair Program Office in Marsh Harbour on Monday to assist Bahamians whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis launched the program on February 10 with the opening of the authority’s Freeport, Grand Bahama office.

There is online registration at the Authority’s website, www.drabahamas.org.

The program allows qualifying Bahamian homeowners to use purchase orders to obtain building materials and other items related to home restoration.

There are four categories for which purchase orders will be granted. Residents whose homes were assessed with minimal damage will be eligible for $2,500 in purchase orders; those with medium damage will be eligible for $5,000 in purchase orders; those with major damage will be eligible for $7,500 in purchase orders; and those whose homes were destroyed will be eligible for $10,000 in purchase orders.

Purchase order recipients will be able to use them for home improvement materials, labor or a combination of both.

There is in-person registration for those unable to register online.

Katherine Forbes-Smith, the authority’s managing director, noted that more people in the Abaco office require direct help registering. Due to the extensive damage caused by Dorian, many Abaconians lost everything in their homes. And, parts of central Abaco remain without electricity.

“This has been a tremendous experience just working with the team here in Abaco,” she said.

“We’re pleased about the talent that we have in this organization. So I want to encourage Abaconians and those who are living in the cays, if you can’t register online at drabahamas.org, if you need special assistance, if you need help, you could come into the office.”

The Abaco office, which is in the government complex in Marsh Harbour, is currently open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The authority is considering extended hours.

In Grand Bahama in-person registration is at the Office of the Prime Minister. In New Providence it will be at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at Gladstone Road.

The New Providence office is scheduled to open on February 24.

To qualify for the program a person must be Bahamian; the applicant must own the property in question; there must be proof of residence at August 31, 2019; the property would need to have been uninsured; and the property has to be in Grand Bahama, Abaco or the Cays.

Tradesmen used for repairs would need to be approved under the program.

Materials purchased with purchase orders would have to be from approved vendors in The Bahamas.

The authority will initially disburse 50 percent of the purchase orders to qualifying applicants. An inspector will then check and ensure the purchase order was spent on the home.

Once that is confirmed the remaining 50 percent would be disbursed.

Lisa Hall is a data entry clerk at the authority’s Abaco office. She lost her home during Dorian. Assisting those in need is especially meaningful to her.

“So being here it’s really a connection not only to help others – family and friends, other people in the community – it’s providing a service that I know everyone needs,” she said.

TaShana Tynes, human resources manager at the authority, said they currently have 11 people working at the Freeport office and another 11 people at the Abaco office to assist applicants.

“And so we are excited to be open officially in Marsh Harbour, Abaco,” she said.

“We’ve had a good flow of traffic already for the morning and we expect that to continue throughout the day.”

Felicia Romer, authority data entry clerk, said the morning was busy but the registration process is user friendly and easy.

“So come on in and we’re here to help,” she said.

The Disaster Reconstruction Authority has also partnered with various NGOs in Dorian-impacted communities. Through the partnerships the government pays for labor and the NGOs provide supplies and various types of logistical and technical assistance.

Hurricane Dorian was the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas. It is estimated to have caused $3.4 billion in losses and damage.

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