Lewis: Over 800 Dorian home repair vouchers issued

The Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) has issued over 800 vouchers for home repairs to Hurricane Dorian victims on Abaco and Grand Bahama, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis said on Sunday.

Speaking during a press conference hosted by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) about the state of hurricane preparedness, Lewis added that the authority is also providing everyone approved with $2,500 and relaxing some other restrictions in an effort to get more of the projects going.

“Since DRA came on stream in February, we opened our portals and some 4,600 persons registered or they created their profile,” he said.

“Of that number, we have some 2,600-plus persons who were approved, and that includes Grand Bahama and Abaco. In Grand Bahama we have some 1,500 persons, households, that were already approved, and out of that we’ve issued 804 vouchers to date.”

Hurricane season officially started yesterday and will last until November 30.

Lewis said that the COVID-19 pandemic, which led the country to shut down mid-March, has impacted the rebuilding efforts on those islands.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Carl Smith echoed Lewis’ reasoning, claiming that “we have not been able to source building materials from abroad” due to the pandemic.

However, Lewis added that “under [the] circumstances, we’re moving as fast as we can”.

“We previously were only using fully-registered contractors [but] we have now made a decision to increase our capacity by also engaging builders, qualified builders, who will now have the ability to go out and help us with our repair,” he said.

“We are engaging them to assist us with the reconstruction in Grand Bahama and in Abaco…

“[O]ne of the things that we also are conscious of, is that even though we are giving persons funding in the range of, or assistance from $2,500 to $10,000…everyone who is approved in the first instance, we’re giving them $2,500 to get going with the projects to make their buildings watertight.

“And any adjustments along the way, once we would have finalized our inspection, then we’ll make the adjustments with respect to ongoing payment.”

Lewis said his ministry’s goal is to make as many homes as watertight as possible “prior to the onset of any hurricane during the season”.

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