Lewis: Additional $13M needed to fund Dorian home repairs

Lewis: Additional $13M needed to fund Dorian home repairs
A home in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, left in ruin nearly two moths after the passage of Hurricane Dorian (FILE PHOTO: ROYSTON JONES JR)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government is seeking to secure an additional $13 million needed to fund its Hurricane Dorian Small Home Repair Programme after reaching a significant shortfall, said Minister of State for Disaster Management Iram Lewis yesterday.

“We know there are persons who are anxiously waiting for the program to continue and we will be making an announcement in short order,” Lewis told reporters outside Cabinet.

“We have a paper to present to Cabinet to get all of the necessary financings to move the project forward.

“I want to assure all of those persons who we made a commitment to that we will honor our commitment.”

In February, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority launched its Small Home Repair Programme, which would have allowed Bahamians impacted by Hurricane Dorian to access up to $10,000 in funds for repairs.

The government had expected to garner funds from pledges offered from countries and organizations, along with other efforts to help fund Dorian restoration.

However, officials have said the novel coronavirus pandemic has created delays in receiving promised donations.

The small home repairs program has registered over 4,000 residents for home repairs on the islands of storm-torn islands. The government currently still owes thousands of dollars to vendors on the storm-struck islands.

Lewis had advised that they were working to reconcile the accounts of money owed.

“To fund the overall program, we are in the neighborhood of $13 million,” he said.

“That’s a major shortfall. Even though we are undergoing a serious financial shortfall, we are trying to do our best to secure that funding.”

Iram Lewis

He assured that individuals who have registered and who have been assessed will be accommodated.

“Again, we are focusing on rebuilding and I know persons are incredibly impatient,” he said.

“They have been waiting for a long time. The vendors have been waiting and again, as a government, we will honor our commitment to follow through with the commitments.”

Lewis could not indicate when the program would restart or when payments will begin.

“We are hopeful that it will start before that, but of course, you know we are financially stretched right now,” he said.

Asked whether new registrants will be able to apply for the program, Lewis said, “Once we would have reconciled all of the books, we will see where we are financially. Of course, we are stretched and if by any means we can extend it we will, but first priority is to honor all of those who were committed to.”

He urged Bahamians to be patient with the process given the unforeseen circumstances.