Fresh off a collaborative campaign with the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) which provided over 100 appliances to residents on the island, the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation (GBDRF) and local NGOs are continuing the work of completing repairs to homes damaged during Hurricane Dorian, in communities across the island.
During Dorian’s two-day rampage on Grand Bahama, as many as 2,000 structures on the island received varying degrees of damage, with 1,500 of these within the City of Freeport. Over the past several months the GBDRF undertook a phased approach to home repair efforts, working closely with GBPA and teams from Rotary International to execute repairs.
“Phase one of the project began in the Pioneers Loop area,” said GBDRF council member Rupert Hayward. “Over a two-week period, the teams were able to complete work on some 20 homes,” he said.
Phase two of the project has already begun, but due to challenges in procuring materials within the new emergency orders, the GBDRF and its partner Rotary, have focused efforts on 20 additional homes. Subsequent phases of the project will move to the Hudson Estates area and other hard-hit areas of the island in due course, with the hope of repairing 400 homes in time.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, one of the GBDRF’s core goals has been to provide safe, watertight and healthy housing solutions for residents who suffered major damage to their homes,” said Hayward.
“This effort is not a sprint. We know it will take time to repair the number of homes that were damaged during the storm, but we are pleased to be working side by side with these amazing NGOs, such as Rotary, by financing and helping execute the needs of the community,” he added.
According to Hayward, as plans move forward, the GBDRF is also taking the necessary precautions to protect workers and residents alike from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, in just a few months, has wrought havoc on global healthcare systems and global economies.
For Grand Bahama, it’s another hard hit.
“Because of the urgency of the ongoing repairs here in Freeport, the government has granted clearance for work to continue and so, our network of repair teams are taking even greater precautions to keep everyone safe,” explained Rotary Grand Bahama spokesperson, James Sarles.
“We’ve been in constant communication with different health and safety teams and with the Grand Bahama Health Services, and plan to continue our work while applying the life-saving recommendations of local healthcare officials” Sarles explained.
Homeowners interested in submitting an application for consideration are encouraged to visit the initiative’s webpage at http://gbrci.skywardcloud.com/ to complete the survey and begin the application process.
The program is open to all homeowners, and, consideration is given on a case-by-case basis, with an emphasis on the neediest in communities, including retirees, single parents, multi-families, uninsured, under-insured, and unemployed.
“So far, the work has elicited a very positive response from residents in the community. We wish we could move faster but we are proud of the efforts so far, and it is always heartening, especially during tough times, to bring some needed relief to those most in need, in our community,” said Hayward.
As part of its longer-term strategy, the GBDRF - which is the charitable arm of the GBPA - will continue to liaise with its international partners to secure funding that will see even more of the island’s residents receive much-needed assistance during these extremely uncertain times.