NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Debris from the Sandbanks shantytown in Abaco has been cleared, according to the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis traveled to the island last week for three days to assess recovery and reconstruction efforts, including security, the progress of the temporary housing program for Government workers and Abaco residents, and clean-up efforts.
Minnis was joined by Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis and North Abaco MP Darren Henfield.
The OPM statement said debris cleared from Sandbanks will now be sorted for proper disposal.
“The government is executing its clean-up plan on Abaco through the ministries of works and the environment, and is exploring specific partnerships with international organizations such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Samaritan’s Purse organization,” the statement read.
“The Ministry of Works has already awarded four contracts for debris removal, and clean-up on the mainland has begun, including in the Marsh Harbour area.
“The island and surrounding cays will be divided into zones and a phased approach will be taken to the removal and disposal of storm debris.”
With 18 to 23 feet storm surges and 220 mph gusts, Dorian decimated portions of Abaco and flattened two of the country’s largest shantytowns – The Mudd and The Peas.
The other affected shantytown communities on Abaco include Sandbanks, Farm Road, L&H and Elbow Cay.
In the days after the storm, the Ministry of Housing and the Environment issued a Prohibition to Build Order for The Mudd, The Peas, Sandbanks and Farm Road communities with immediate effect, “to allow for recovery efforts and the removal of storm debris related to Hurricane Dorian”.
The order is valid for six months but may be extended for further periods of up to six months as required.
Last month, the government announced that several contracts were awarded for the cleanup of shantytowns on Abaco.
According to Ministry of Works Director Melanie Roach, the companies will have three months to complete the process, depending on the situation they meet on the ground.
Any area identified for clean-up is thoroughly checked for bodies using cadaver dogs, and must be cleared before heavy equipment can be brought onto the site, Lewis said.
Land for the government’s Family Relief Centre has been cleared, and the infrastructure material needed to start construction has arrived on the island, the OPM said.
The government will spend approximately $6.4 million for the temporary housing for displaced Hurricane Dorian victims.
Minnis said the removal of debris is the first phase of the government’s reconstruction effort and once the debris has been cleared the rebuilding process can begin.
Cleanup of residential areas is expected to being later this week.