The remaining hurricane shelters on New Providence, which have been housing Hurricane Dorian evacuees, will be incrementally deactivated, Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell said yesterday, adding that his ministry hopes to have them closed by the end of the year.
He added that the ministry will provide assistance to help residents with the transition.
The number of shelter residents on New Providence decreased to about 600, according to a recent update from the Department of Social Services. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, there were 10 government approved shelters on New Providence, however, last month these were consolidated into just two.
“We’re hoping that by the end of this year, before the holidays, that we can have all of those persons [in the shelters] successfully transitioned back to an environment that they are familiar with, to an environment that they are comfortable with, and be in a position to help further cleanup and restore and bring back normalcy,” he said.
He added, “We will definitely assist with transportation. We’ve got to get them back home; or persons who may find themselves needing to rent, we will assist with rental assistance.
“We’re partnering with the Red Cross and other organizations who will help us with furniture. We’ve already initiated the uniform assistance for school-aged children that were affected; and of course the food assistance is a given, that will continue.”
With regards to non-Bahamians currently residing in the shelters, Campbell said, “There is talk of what other ministries with other responsibilities have to do; of course we will co-operate and collaborate but our focus from day one is to ensure that all humanitarian needs are met and extended to anyone who comes and of course to those who are in our shelters.”
The minister cited the continual decrease in the number of evacuees in the shelters as a reason for the deactivation.
“We’re not accustomed to that so we were never prepared for this, and so from day one we wanted to deactivate shelters as soon as practicably possible,” Campbell said.
He continued, “We’ve had human resources shortages prior to Dorian; Dorian brought on an unexpected, unimaginable strain that we had to respond to while continuing to respond to our everyday clients throughout the rest of The Bahamas.
“The staff has been working overtime. The Urban Renewal staff has supplemented with some of their personnel from the various centers.
“The strange thing about it all is even our staff, who themselves are victims of the ravage of Dorian, are still on the frontline giving assistance, so that is another reason why the sooner we’re able to deactivate those shelters, successfully transition those persons, our staff can now go and start to attend to their personal lives and bring some normalcy to their personal lives.”