DRA: Nearly 4,000 to benefit from home repair program

DIsaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) Managing Director Katherine Forbes-Smith said yesterday that almost 4,000 people will benefit from the Small Home Repair Program since Hurricane Dorian.

“You know, when we started the program, we had to set up an online platform to be able to manage the program,” she said.

“You had about 6,700 residents on Grand Bahama and Abaco who applied or at least setup profiles on the system.”

Individuals who benefit from the program must be Bahamians and homeowners, according to Forbes-Smith, who added that the homes in question had to have been damaged as a result of Dorian.

“So, there was a criteria set up for persons who needed assistance,” she said.

“By the time we went through that whole process of looking at who met the criteria, we came right down to about 3,735 homeowners.”

Forbes-Smith said at least 1,300 homeowners have already received 100 percent of what they were entitled to under the program.

She said the DRA is working on helping the remaining homeowners. 

“There [are] another 1,000 homeowners that we’ve put in our budget for July to assist the remainder of those persons, which we call them stage three,” she said.

“So, right now, we’re completing stage[s] one and two. If we are able to get through that process and homeowners bring in their quotes and get their purchase orders, we would’ve helped – by the end of June – 2,645 homeowners with 1,000 or so being left for July.”

In the aftermath of Dorian – a catastrophic Category 5 storm that ravaged Abaco and Grand Bahama in September 2019 – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the establishment of temporary housing, which are dome-like structures, that was expected to cost about $6.4 million.

He said the government planned to set up 250 domes on Abaco in a “tent city”.

In January, when asked what was the hold up with the erection of the remaining structures, DRA Project Manager Wendell Grant told The Nassau Guardian, “There’s a number of things that are holding up: some of it is material, some of it is contracting, some of it is cost.”

Thousands of homes and businesses on Abaco and Grand Bahama were washed away, destroyed and damaged during Dorian’s wrath.

The rebuilding process has been slow and many residents still sleep in tents. Others have moved to other islands.

Yesterday, Forbes-Smith noted that some Sweeting’s Cay, Grand Bahama, residents are still living in tents post-Dorian.

She said the DRA has modular homes, which were donated by Mediterranean Shipping Company last year, that are intended for those individuals.

“It really was a logistics nightmare to get those modular homes on to Sweeting’s Cay because of barging issues, because of weather issues, the weight of those modular homes,” Forbes-Smith said.

“It’s taken us a while to get to the point where we are today. I think that we have about 12 of them out of the 20 erected at a particular location on the cay and people still want them.

“I hear people all the time say, ‘Why are you continuing to erect these modular homes? Why are you continuing with the domes?’ But people who say that are not the people who were impacted by Dorian.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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