Five months post-Hurricane Dorian the Small Home Repair Programme was officially launched on Monday, February 10, on the Harold DeGregory Building lawn.
Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas Dr. Hubert Minnis attended the special ceremony and gave remarks, where he affirmed the government’s commitment to assisting the Bahamian people.
“Five months ago, Hurricane Dorian brought historic destruction to the Northern Bahamas. The Category 5 storm was the strongest to hit our chain of islands. The ferocious winds and high surge destroyed homes and businesses. Lives were lost,” he said.
He added that in the few days Dorian stayed over the north, it blew down and washed away generations’ worth of work and development.
“In the aftermath of the storm Bahamians from around the country and around the world rallied to assist the residents of Grand Bahama, Abaco and the Cays,” said the prime minister.
According to the nation’s leader, their efforts along with those of other countries, churches, NGOs, businesses and the government helped lessen the burden of those who lost so much.
“This spirit of resilience is central to the Bahamian character. When Bahamians are in need, we rally to help reach our brothers and sisters,” he said.
The prime minister stated that the government continues to work hard at full restoration of all utilities in the disaster zones.
“We also continue to work hard at the immense task of debris removal,” he added.
He noted that Dorian caused the accumulation of record amounts of debris in the Northern Bahamas, which would require a great deal of reconstruction.
“In my upcoming National Address, I will go into more detail about our rebuilding and restoration. During his opening of the Mid-Year Budget Report on Wednesday, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance (K. Peter Turnquest) will give a financial report to the House of Assembly. Key to these efforts is the program we launch today,” he said.
Prime Minister Minnis stated that the government understands that many Bahamians who reside in the disaster zones have had great financial pressures placed on them.
“It has been difficult for many to find the funds necessary to make repairs to their homes. In an effort to assist, my government is launching the Small Home Repair Programme,” he said.
The prime minister explained that there will be four categories of applicants for the programme, which will determine the amount they are eligible for in their purchase orders.
Those with minimal damage will be eligible for $2,500 in purchase orders, those with medium damage will be eligible for $5,000 in purchase orders, residents with major damages will be eligible for $7,500 in purchase orders and those whose homes have been totally destroyed would be eligible for $10,000 in purchase orders.
The prime minister informed that these purchase orders are meant for home improvement, labour or a combination of both. Persons can register for this programme there is online at www.drabahamas.org or at the established offices dedicated to this programme.
The Grand Bahama office opened on Monday, February 10; the office in Abaco located in the Government Complex will open on February 17, and the New Providence office opens on February 24, at the National Emergency Management Agency office Gladstone Road.
He encouraged persons to register online as it would eliminate some of the waiting period during this process.
“This will prevent you from having to wait in any lines,” the prime minister said.
He stated that the criteria include providing proof Bahamian citizenship, ownership of the property and proof of residency since August 31, 2019. Also, the homes must have been uninsured and located in Grand Bahama, Abaco or the Abaco Cays, purchase orders would have to be made with approved local vendors.
“We want to keep as much money here in The Bahamas,” he said. “We also want to make sure the money spent is used for home repair. The Disaster Reconstruction Authority will disburse 50 percent of the purchase orders first to qualifying applicants.”
He added that an inspector will then check and ensure the purchase order was spent on the home. 15 Once that is confirmed the remaining 50 percent will be disbursed.
The Authority has also partnered with various NGOs in communities affected by Dorian. Through the partnerships the Government pays for home repair labour, and the NGOs provide supplies and various types of logistical and technical assistance.
Those initiatives will continue in conjunction with this new Small Home Repair Program.
“We thank the NGOs that are assisting for their generosity and kindness to Bahamians in need,” he said.
The prime minister expressed that it will take years for the Bahamas to fully recover from Dorian however, he noted that the government will provide support every step of the way.
“My government pledges its full support along each step of the way to restoration. We came to Government to help people,” he said.
He added that this Small Home Repair Programme is directed at helping Bahamian people get their homes back to normalcy.
“We are a resilient people. Together we will build back better and stronger,” he said.
Katherine Forbes-Smith Director of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority was also in attendance moderated the launch ceremony.