Dorian shelterees headed to Abaco Family Relief Centre

Dorian shelterees headed to Abaco Family Relief Centre
Disaster Relief and Reconstruction Committee Chairman John Michael Clarke.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Disaster Reconstruction Authority Chairman John Michael Clarke said yesterday that Hurricane Dorian shelterees on New Providence will be able to move into the Family Relief Centre on Abaco within 90 days. 

Last month, the government entered into an agreement with Poinciana Inn on Bernard Road for transitional accommodation for 90 days “to further reduce the number of persons residing in the two remaining shelters”.

The final transition from shelters at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium and The Bahamas Academy Auditorium, to their respective islands or housing is expected to be completed within that period. 

Clarke spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a hurricane workshop on “Recovery policy, Recovery Strategy, Implementation Plan, and Institutional and Organisational Arrangements”.

He noted that the authority will be working with Social Services to come up with a solution for temporary relief on Abaco as he pointed to the government’s Family Relief Centre.

The government has announced that it will spend approximately $6.4 million on 250 dome structures for temporary housing for displaced storm victims.

Since this announcement there have been constant changes with the government’s temporary housing and domes initiative. 

Some of those domes will be placed on the properties of homeowners who have adequate space and whose homes have been destroyed, and the others will be utilised in the relief centre.

Asked how individuals will be chosen for the relief centre, Clarke said, “as a matter of policy, those [will be] persons who are still sheltered and those persons who have no property or any other place to go in Abaco. 

“The same criteria that was in place at the beginning of the disaster, that criteria will remain for those that are eligible for the Family Relief Centre.

“Those are essentially the persons that are in shelters now.”

He added: “Originally the family relief centre was being designed to take up to 1,000 persons. I understand that there are just over 300 persons that are still in shelters.

“…We will make sure that whatever we do there is adequate for the number of persons to be sheltered.”

Hurricane Dorian, the strongest storm to ever hit Northwest Bahamas, devastated parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco, leaving thousands displaced and hundreds missing.

The storm leveled the two largest of the six shantytowns on Abaco – which also housed the largest number of undocumented migrants.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has previously declared that “no illegals” will be allowed in the relief centre. 

The centre is expected to 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 centre will only be in place for two years until individuals and families move into permanent housing.

The domes will be free of charge.

Clarke added yesterday that in addition to the domes the government is also actively pursuing permanent housing solutions,

“We are at the stage now where we are beginning with the end in mind,” he said.

“Right now we are planning for permanent homes and we are planning for permanent homes with the view that we will actually get people back into permanent living spaces and they won’t have to rely on the domes for 15-24 months.”

Clarke further noted that the government is seeking to make available property on Abaco for permanent homes to be built.

“There are two 60 acre tracks that will be opened for development for private developers locally and international developers who may want to provide resilient home solutions,” he said. 

“The new development, that will be done with the stakeholders in Abaco, and that’s apart of our new reconstruction resilient solution for the island of Abaco.”

Those properties are located in Wilson City and a mile north of Spring City, according the the authority’s chairman.

In December, Minnis announced that the government will build 400 low-cost homes for people impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

At the time the prime minister said the land and construction of the homes will be free to the homeowner, and it will fall within the free economic zone, ensuring all duties are free as well.

Minnis however did not detail how individuals would be chosen for the homes, or what the process would be to getting one.