Climate
BAH | Dec 7, 2020

Mobile hurricane-resilient home repair service headed to Abaco, Grand Bahama

/ Our Today

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Hartley Eugene Thompson II, UNDP engineer/architect with the Technical Assistance Centres on location in The Bahamas with one of the mobile units. (Photo: Contributed)

The Caribbean region’s first mobile technical assistance centres (TAC), offering door-to-door hurricane resilient home repair services, have been deployed to the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in The Bahamas, targeting homeowners devastated b Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

The mobile TAC services are offered through two repurposed RV vans donated by the Rotary Bahamas Disaster Relief (RBDR) through a disaster grant from The Rotary Foundation. Implementation is being led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Multi Country Office in Jamaica, through its project office in The Bahamas in support of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority.

The mobile TAC on Grand Bahama is manned by Eugene Thompson, an architect with an engineering background who advises homeowners and contractors in their reconstruction efforts. The mobile TAC service on Abaco is led by Nick Sims, a structural engineer, who guides those who are either doing the repairs and reconstruction themselves or are employing contractors. Thompson and Sims are also in charge of inspections and assessment of new structures and repairs under the Small Home Repair Programme on the recipient islands.

BUILD SMARTER VIDEOS TO DEMONSTRATE CONSTRUCTION BEST PRACTICES

The UNDP is supplementing the hands-on professional services with a series of educational Build Smarter instructional videos to demonstrate hurricane resilient rebuild and construction best practices and tips that are in compliance with the Bahamian building code.

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio, who is also assigned to The Bahamas, expressed optimism that the TACs would serve as an innovative model for the delivery of disaster resilience services especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the pandemic has slowed the rebuilding efforts in Abaco and Grand Bahama, we are encouraged that the partnership between the UNDP and the Rotary Club of The Bahamas has outweighed the obstacles creatively and effectively, by supporting homeowners in a safe and practical manner, during this rebuilding phase,” she said.

“We view our help to fellow Bahamians after a disaster like Hurricane Dorian, as our reason for being.”

Bryan Knowles, chairman of Rotary Bahamas Disaster Relief

Bryan Knowles, chairman of Rotary Bahamas Disaster Relief, said “Rotarians are guided first and foremost by our motto ‘Service Above Self’ and our service is categorised into areas of focus, namely, peace and conflict prevention/resolution; disease prevention and treatment; water and sanitation; maternal and child health; basic education and literation; economic and community development.”

Knowles added: “We view our help to fellow Bahamians after a disaster like Hurricane Dorian, as our reason for being. Rotarians are a part of the community, lending support to first responders but focusing on long-term economic revitalisation of areas hit by disaster, which often makes us the last ones to leave.”

A sampling of the devastation wrought on The Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. (Photo: PAHO.org)

Knowles said Rotary Clubs are committed to restoration efforts, and further indicated that Rotary Club members on the islands who are contractors, engineers, owners of heavy equipment and retailers of construction material have been assisting with the rebuilding effort, while the RBDR continues to mobilise donations for the restoration of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, the UNDP donated more than US$1 million in technical assistance services to the hurricane relief, recovery and rebuild efforts in The Bahamas.

Hurricane Dorian, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, and the strongest hurricane to have ever hit The Bahamas, made landfall on September 1, 2019 as a Category-5 hurricane, causing flooding and mass destruction on Abaco and Grand Bahama. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, Dorian caused about US$3.4 billion in damages, which is equal to one-quarter of The Bahamas’ gross domestic product.

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