‘Domes a waste of money’

The dome housing structures purchased by the government for hurricane survivors who have lost their homes were yesterday labelled as a waste of money by some residents on Abaco.

Their comments follow Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis, who said there is no deadline in place yet for the completion of the dome city on the island.

Hope Town, Abaco resident Junior Mernard, 48, said the domes investment made no sense.

“I don’t think the government ever had a plan, and this is just reassurance that they never had a plan,” he said.

“The domes were a waste of money – 100 percent a waste of money, a waste of time, and quite frankly, it will become a huge eye sore.

Mernard added that the $6.4 million dollars invested in a family relief site near Spring City, Abaco, could have been used in more tangible ways.

“That $6.4 million the government budgeted could’ve easily gone to local, reputable contractors on Abaco,” he said.

“Reputable contractors should have been assigned to restore homes because what people don’t realize is the majority of the homes just had substantial roof damage and water intrusion.

“So, if these homes could have been dried in from the roof side, I think the owners would be able to work towards making their homes liveable again.”

Roughly 9,000 homes and more than 11 million square feet of structures were damaged on Abaco and Grand Bahama during the storm, according to a report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in November.

The report noted $1.48 billion in damage to the housing sector with nearly 89 percent of the damage on Abaco.

George Cornish, 51, of Dundas Town, Abaco, agreed with Mernard.

“I wouldn’t say that some people need them – people who have lost their homes, but based on the amount of money they spent of them, I think we could’ve used some of that money to actually rebuild homes on Abaco,” he said.

Asked how much these domes will cost the average resident, Minister Lewis told The Nassau Guardian the domes should cost “well below $20,000”, but the price hasn’t been finalized as yet.

In response, Cornish said, “My thing about it is, if you buy 200 domes for $20,000 a piece, that’s $4,000,000.”

“You know what that could’ve done for the people of Central Abaco?

“We understand that there are some people who don’t have places to stay, and they’re residing on other islands or in the U.S., but there are some homes that can be restored for under $20,000.”

Mark Roberts, 57, of Man-O-War Cay, Abaco, said he believes the government should scrap the domes altogether.

“They’re only going to end up putting Haitians up there,” he said.

“I don’t have anything against Haitians, but the only thing that site is going to become is another Mudd and Pigeon Peas.

“Everyone in Spring City is in an uproar because they don’t want them in their community.”

The popular electrical plumbing contractor added that the domes are unable to withstand a minor hurricane, let alone a storm of Dorian’s magnitude.

In November 2019, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis declared that undocumented migrants will not be allowed in the temporary housing established on Abaco.

Despite Minnis’ declaration, Janice Sawyer, 64, of Marsh Harbour, Abaco, also said she believes only undocumented migrants will occupy the domes.

“The government is not supplying anything for us,” said Sawyer.

“I mean, I have not had the first piece of wood, the first piece of ice and water shield or nothing yet for my house.

“I’m still waiting to get my roof done, and I have not seen the first thing.

“So, the domes are really just a waste of money. They should’ve ordered materials to give to the people that need to rebuild their homes.”

On top of roof damage, Sawyer said she also had up to five feet of storm surge rush through her home during the storm.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, she and her husband relocated to Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, and recently moved back to Abaco in time for the Christmas holidays.

Since returning to the island, Sawyer has been trying to clean up as much as she can, but she said that she has no insurance to cover the repairs needed for her home.

Hurricane Dorian destroyed most of the homes and businesses in Marsh Harbour and other parts of Abaco when it made landfall in early September last year.

Marsh Harbour, Abaco’s capital and center of commerce, was decimated. Hundreds of storm survivors remain in shelters on New Providence. Thousands of others are scattered across and outside of the country.

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