Minister says shelter numbers continue to decline
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Four months after Hurricane Dorian laid waste to communities in the northwest Bahamas, displacing thousands, Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell suggested yesterday shelters housing storm victims in New Providence will remain open as long as there is a need.
In November, the minister said the remaining shelters in New Providence will be incrementally deactivated with a hope to have them closed before the end of 2019.
When asked about the end of year deadline while at the 2020 New Year’s Junkanoo Parade, Campbell said: “I’m not aware of a deadline. I would remember hoping that we would have been able to deactivate shelters by the Christmas. That did not happen because as long as there are people who need to be sheltered we are obliged to provide those shelters.”
According to the minister, there were 438 storm victims in shelters in New Providence: 108 in the Bahamas Academy and 330 at the Kendal GL Isaacs Gymnasium.
“The numbers continue to decrease because we are assisting families with rental assistance; assisting families in either relocating here in New Providence or back to their original islands or even to other islands that they may wish to transition to,” Campbell said.
This isn’t something that we are accustomed to. This isn’t something we could have planned for because we would not have anticipated it being of this magnitude, but we are where we are and we continue to work for a solution in the quickest possible time.”
The continual decrease in shelterees in recent months was cited as the reason for the deactivation of the shelters.
The government’s plan to construct a Family Relief Center in Abaco for storm victims to return to the island and rebuild is ongoing. One hundred and ten dome structures were expected to be erected in Spring City, Abaco, by Christmas.
It remains unclear how the government will determine who gets first preference to those units.
The full project is expected to cost the government $6.4 million.
Dorian, a record Category 5 storm, leveled portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 1-3. It impacted at estimated 30,000 people.