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New housing and community center being planned for Abaco

In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, a new community center, which will also act as a hurricane shelter, is being planned for Central Abaco, North Abaco MP Darren Henfield said yesterday.

He said the project is being developed with the assistance of the Republic of India, which donated $1 million in the aftermath of the hurricane.

“India was one of the first countries to visit The Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian and presented to the prime minister a check for $1 million dollars to support the relief and restoration effort,” he said during his contribution to the budget debate.

“Subsequently, the India-CARICOM Summit was held in the margins of the United Nations 74th General Assembly last September.

“During the summit, the Honourable Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, pledged a grant of $1 million for each CARICOM country toward community development projects.

“The Bahamas has submitted a proposal for the construction of a community center/hurricane shelter in Central Abaco and we await India’s decision on the proposal. India, as evidenced by the support for post-hurricane reconstruction and COVID-19, has proven to be an invaluable friend and ally to The Bahamas.”

A recent report from the International Organization for Migration found that there is insufficient shelter capacity on Abaco and Grand Bahama in the aftermath of Dorian.

The report noted that while there was sufficient shelter space on the islands during Hurricane Dorian, many shelters remain damaged from the storm. It also noted that more people on those islands will likely seek space in official shelters due to their experiences during Dorian.

Henfield did not detail how many people would be able to stay in the proposed shelter in the event of a storm.

Nine months after Dorian, many homes on Abaco remain in a state of disrepair.

Henfield yesterday provided updates on government plans to provide housing assistance for Abaconians

He said 173 temporary domes will be erected on the properties of various homeowners who meet the criteria.

“I am advised that this process has begun today, June 8 and that the authority is currently working along with Social Services to ensure that persons meet the criteria set,” he said.

“One would have had to have his or her home destroyed as a result of Hurricane Dorian, must be a Bahamian, and either a senior citizen, disabled, or a family with minor children in order to qualify.”

So far, 32 temporary housing domes have been erected in Spring City, Abaco.

Henfield said the Disaster Relief Authority is also finalizing a contract for the construction of 46 homes in Central Pines, Abaco, and planning another mixed-use residential development on the island.

“The government of The Bahamas will be responsible for the provision of land, and the development of infrastructure and the selected company will then construct the homes with increased levels of resiliency and incorporating ‘build back better’ policies,” he said.

“Additionally, a pre-qualification notice has been issued to the entire public inviting Bahamian businesses to submit proposals for the development of a mixed-use residential development to be constructed in Spring City and Wilson City in Abaco.

“Mr. Speaker, two 60-acre lots have been provided by the government for this development.”

Henfield said the government has so far spent $1.87 million in purchase orders issued to Abaco and Grand Bahama homeowners for the purchase of construction materials for the repair of their homes through the Small Home Repair Program.

“I am advised that as of May 31, more than 3,200 applications have been received from the impacted residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama whose homes were destroyed or damaged during the passage of Hurricane Dorian,” he said.

“Of this number, Mr. Speaker, there are some 1,073 applicants from Abaco, of which almost 60 percent of those have already been approved to receive funding to assist with renovating their homes. Those remaining are either still required to upload additional documents or are pending approval.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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