COOPER’S TOWN – The government and an international non-governmental organization (NGO) are partnering to repair 250 homes that were damaged in North Abaco during Hurricane Dorian.
Details of the partnership between Global Empowerment Mission (GEM) and the government were discussed at a town hall meeting at Faith Walk Church of God in Cooper’s Town on Tuesday night.
GEM, which works with partners, will provide supplies for small home repairs for the communities in the areas of Cooper’s Town, Blackwood and Fire Road. The government will pay for the labor associated with the repairs, and provide logistical support for the initiative.
“We’re not going to stop until this is done,” said Michael Capponi, founder and executive director of GEM.
Based on the plan for these communities, supplies will be brought in by GEM and small coordinated teams will perform the repairs with inspectors ensuring the work is done to the relevant standards.
GEM’s mission is to provide relief to victims of natural and man-made disasters. GEM has provided relief to communities in need by taking over 200 mission trips around the world.
Katherine Forbes-Smith, managing director of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority, told residents that 80 workers were needed as part of the repairs initiative in North Abaco. She encouraged those in attendance seeking work to sign up with the Authority.
The authority was set up by Parliament to spearhead reconstruction in the areas in Abaco and Grand Bahama devastated by Hurricane Dorian.
“I just really want to thank GEM and Mr. Capponi for all the work he is doing. He is very dedicated,” said Forbes-Smith.
“This is a great partnership. The international community has been tremendous in support of The Bahamas and this disaster. And we really appreciate what he is doing and what the many NGOs on the island are doing.”
Capponi also asked local business owners to contact him for assistance in getting their operations restored.
“We want to come up with a master plan to get you back in business other than just fixing, you know, the roofs and things like that,” he said.
“Possibly we could help give you, give you some funds to like get your business going again.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs and North Abaco Member of Parliament Darren Henfield pledged that the government will continue its reconstruction efforts until Abaco and Grand Bahama are restored.
“That’s a promise I make to you as long as I stay your member of Parliament,” he said.
“We’re going to be bigger. We’re going to be better. We’re going to be stronger than we were before Dorian.”
Forbes-Smith also announced the government’s Homes Repair Programme for structures damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.
The program is scheduled to begin the first week of February. Residents will be able to use the vouchers to purchase building materials and other items related to restoring their homes.
There will be four categories for which vouchers will be granted. Residents whose homes were assessed with minimal damage will be eligible for $2,500 in vouchers; those with medium damage will be eligible for $5,000 in vouchers; those with major damage will be eligible for $7,500 in vouchers; and those whose homes were destroyed will be eligible for $10,000 in vouchers.
The authority will continue hosting town hall meetings in communities affected by Hurricane Dorian over the next few weeks.