FOX TOWN – The Government and a Florida-based church are partnering to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Dorian in Little Abaco.
“As we watched from across the sea at the devastation that happened from Hurricane Dorian, the feeling of hopelessness was only met by the need and the desire and the true call to respond,” said Marie Reny of The Church by the Sea at a town hall meeting in Fox Town, Abaco on Wednesday at Zion Baptist Church.
Reny is the director of children’s ministry at the church and wife of Pastor Chris Reny. The Church by The Sea is a non-denominational church based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
In October, a team of licensed contractors from Ft. Lauderdale assessed homes in Little Abaco along with local licensed contractors. Based on that assessment, it was determined that 215 structures needed to be addressed.
Of that number, 80 homes needed new roofs, 109 needed patchwork repairs and 26 needed to be rebuilt.
“From that assessment, we started our fundraising,” said Reny.
The repair work with coordinated teams will be the first stage of the program. The church will provide building materials.
The homes of the elderly, the sick and families with children will be the first repaired.
During the repair stage, The Church by the Sea will work on the concept of and fundraising for the rebuilds.
Materials will also be provided to residents who want to repair their own homes.
“Our hearts have been with you through this,” said Reny.
Local labor will be used in the initiative. The government will pay for the local labor.
Katherine Forbes-Smith, managing director of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority, said the authority will have inspectors working with the building teams to help with the process.
“It is very important that we try to build a little bit better,” she said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and North Abaco Member of Parliament Darren Henfield thanked The Church by the Sea for its assistance. He also expressed confidence in the reconstruction work the authority is doing.
“Now, as your member of Parliament and as a member of the government of The Bahamas who sits in the Cabinet, I want to say to you that the government and I have tremendous confidence in Kay Forbes-Smith, who leads our recovery effort in Grand Bahama and in Abaco,” he said.
“We know Kay is going to do a great job for us. We will continue to work very closely with her.”
Forbes-Smith also informed residents of the wider Government Homes Repair Programme for structures damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Dorian. She announced the program on Tuesday in Cooper’s Town.
The program is scheduled to begin the first week of February. Residents will be able to use 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.