Govt. still working out protocols with dome facility in Abaco

Govt. still working out protocols with dome facility in Abaco
Disaster Relief and Reconstruction Committee Chairman John Michael Clarke.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Department of Social Services already has a list of Hurricane Dorian victims who may qualify for the government’s temporary housing facility on Abaco, according to Disaster Relief and Reconstruction Committee Chairman John Michael Clarke.

Clarke made the comment during a press conference at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) yesterday, where members of the media were able to view the dome tents evacuee’s will be living in.

The government has announced that it will spend $6.4 million on 250 dome structures for temporary housing for Bahamians displaced as a result of the Category 5 storm which devasted parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco in early September.

Each dome structure includes plumbing, drainage, a sewer system, and electricity; and will be able to accommodate between four to six people.

Brickell Management Group Construction Director Philip Robinson said the company hopes to have 110 of those domes on Abaco by Christmas.

The company was initially contracted to do an initial concept design but has since been tasked with building the domes.

“At the moment I have 90 domes in Abaco,” Robinson told reporters.

“We erected the first one this weekend, in Spring City…We had to clear an area. We put foundations in for 40. We’ve put plumbing in for fresh water. We’ve put sewerage lines in [and] septic tanks arrive later this week. We’ve put the bases in. The bases we’ve ground anchored to bedrock, so they’re not going to move. And we’ve raised the basis by six inches, so we have no water issues, so everybody is dry.”

Robinson said he intends to 14 of those domes up by Friday.

“Our intention is to have 110 domes this side of Christmas on the island, and the remainder to be on the island by the end of January”, he continued.

“We are working through the Christmas period to keep moving forward.”

The government has announced that the Family Relief Centre near Spring City, Abaco, will house 125 of the 250 domes, while the other 125 will be reserved for homeowners who are restoring and or repairing their homes.

The deadly storm blew off roofs, flattened homes, destroyed buildings and toppled lamp poles.

Thousands of people were displaced as a result of the storm, hundreds remain missing and at least 70 are dead, but that number is expected to increase.

As of yesterday, 497 shelterees still reside on two designated sites in New Providence: 380 at the Kendal GL Isaacs Gymnasium and three tents, and 117 at the Bahamas Academy Gymnasium.

The government has said it plans to have those shelters closed before the end of the year, though details remain unclear on how it will deal with those evacuees.

Asked yesterday who will have preference to be placed in those domes, Disaster Relief and Reconstruction Committee Chairman John Michael Clarke said that applications can be made through the Department of Social Services.

“What is going to happen is, the Ministry of Works and the Department of Social Services will come out, they will do an assessment, and based on a set of criteria in vulnerabilities and need, they would determine the priority of who gets the domes in the various areas,” Clarke explained.

“There is a preliminary list. The authority is vetting that list. We will be meeting with the Department of Social Services this week with the view of once the contractor has the domes erected, we can begin what we intend to do, and that is get persons back on the island of Abaco, preparing their properties and living in comfortable space.”

He noted that individuals will be able to move into those temporarily facilities, “as soon as they are ready and turned over and we have identified the persons”.

Given the number of people impacted, Clarke was asked whether there is a concern that the demand for the homes may be greater than the supply.

“The whole recovery is dynamic,” he responded.

“The assessments are ongoing. We are determined to start out with 250 domes. That was conservative based on the information we were getting from the initial damage assessments. If it is determined once we get started that more domes are required, more temporary housing is needed, then we would take the appropriate steps to ensure more temporary housing is acquired.” 

Officials have announced that the domes will only be up for 24 months. Additionally, the government has said that it is considering a nominal fee for rent after an undetermined free period.

Asked yesterday about this possible cost, Clarke said, “To be honest, we are still working out some of the protocols whether the entire length of stay will be free.

“At some point, you would have heard there as going to be a charge. None of those things as a matter of policy have been confirmed but prior to anybody taking up residence in any of the temporary shelters, all of those details will be ironed out.”