Disaster Authority chief: Relief domes will only go to properties with adequate space

Disaster Authority chief: Relief domes will only go to properties with adequate space
Kay Forbes Smith (middle)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As the government continues to iron out its policy regarding the distribution of dome homes, Bahamas Disaster Authority Managing Director Kay Forbes-Smith advised that only homeowners whose properties have adequate space will be eligible for one.

Speaking with Eyewitness News Online yesterday, Forbes-Smith noted that there have been constant changes with the government’s temporary housing and domes initiative and with it a lot of misinformation.

She sought to clarify the authority’s intentions for the post-Dorian housing on storm ravaged islands – Abaco and Grand Bahama.

“There are about 40 plus homes in Spring City that were damaged as a result of the Hurricane,” Forbes-Smith said.

“From what I have been advised, some properties in Spring City that experienced the damages, and we are talking about total destruction, there’s not enough space to put the domes and also do any kind of reconstruction of people’s homes that they may want to do.”

She noted that some domes have already been distributed and are currently going up on properties of homeowners who live in that subdivision.

“The other domes that are being made available in Abaco, which will also be made available in Grand Bahama, depending on where you are located, if you have space on your personal property where you have lost your home, those domes will be able to go on your property,” Forbes-Smith continued.

“…We are saying once your lot can take the presence of a dome and you are able to still adequately repair and rebuild your home, it will be allowed.

“So basically, these domes are really, in the first instance for persons whose homes have been destroyed or homes where people obviously have serious major structural issues.”

As for the government’s Family Relief Centre on Abaco which is expected to house 125 of the government’s 250 domes, the authority’s head said identification of eligible people are still ongoing and the program is still being ironed out.

“There’s still discussions now with the authority on how this family center is supposed to operate, because what we are focusing on now is the fact that we need to get temporary housing on the ground for people,” she added.

The Family Relief Centre will span across 12 acres, and each dome structure will include plumbing, drainage, a sewer system, and electricity; and will be able to accommodate up to five people.

The center will only be in place for two years until individuals and families move into permanent housing.

The domes will be free of charge.

At last report, just over 40 domes had been constructed with the exact number updated daily.

However, in December, InterShelter Inc. said that 110 domes would be built before Christmas.

The authority said earlier last month that additional domes were scheduled to arrive by the end of January.

Along with the dome homes initiative, the government will also implement a program to provide funds for impacted homeowners to repair their homes.

The authority announced that it will launch the Small Home Repair Programme on February 10.

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 has advised.

Those vouchers would be used for home improvement materials, labour or a combination of both.

There will be online registration for the programme, as well as in-person sign-up locations for those unable to register online.

To qualify for the programme a person needs to be Bahamian; to own the property in question; there must be proof of residence at August 31, 2019; and the property would need to have been uninsured.