WHAT’S THE HOLD UP?: $1.8M Abaco hurricane shelter still not completed two weeks into hurricane season

WHAT’S THE HOLD UP?: $1.8M Abaco hurricane shelter still not completed two weeks into hurricane season
A rendering of the Central Abaco Community Centre/Hurricane Shelter expected to be completed by May 2021. (FILE PHOTO)

“The reality is we would have wanted it to be done way before the hurricane season”

Construction of homes for Hurricane Dorian victims still being planned

NASSAU, BAHAMAS  — Construction on the $1.8 million Central Abaco Community Centre/Hurricane Shelter has been delayed and is expected to be completed by the end of summer, according to Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe.

The government broke ground on the project in December 2020, with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis indicating at the time the facility would be completed by the end of May.

He said construction of the facility would be paid for primarily by donor funding, and North Abaco MP Darren Henfield said it would be through gift agreements in the amount of $1,750,000.

Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe.

Other committed funds in the amount of $75,000 were still being finalized at the time.

However, when asked about the status of the project outside Cabinet yesterday, Parker-Edgecombe told reporters that while work has commenced, there has been a slight delay.

She assured it will be done “very shortly”.

“We are sitting at the table still. We are trying to figure out how best to move forward,” she said.

“Our funding has always been an issue for us. We are now very grateful that persons are coming onboard to assist with that.

“I am hopeful, in all honesty, that it is completed before the end of the summer months because the reality is we would have wanted it to be done way before the hurricane season, but we are where we are and we are going to continue.”


Housing challenges

Parker-Edgecombe noted there are also still challenges with housing assistance on the island.

“We are trying to get to the best practice to assist those residents of Abaco in particular because housing is an issue,” she said.

“We are also appealing to the private sector and individuals who may want to go into Abaco to build rental units to do this.”

The disaster management minister advised that the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) is currently working on a 100-unit rental facility specifically for government workers, to ensure essential services on the island are available.

She said she will provide more updates on these initiatives during her 2021/2022 budget communication.

Darren Henfield.

In his budget communication on June 7, Henfield advised that the government will begin construction on homes on Abaco for Hurricane Dorian victims by the end of the month.

He outlined several housing projects on the island in the pipeline, in Central Pines, Spring City and Wilson City.

Henfield also pointed to planned housing projects through potential public-private partnerships, advising that the DRA has already cleared a proposed site for the building of homes donated by the Bakers Bay group.

He said it is anticipated that construction on model homes in that community will commence within the next two to three weeks.

Dorian laid waste to portions of Abaco and Grand Bahamas in September 2019.

The cost of damages resulting from the record storm is estimated at $3.4 billion.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.