December 7th, 2020–The Caribbean region’s first mobile Technical Assistance Centers (TAC) offering door to door hurricane-resilient home repair services, have been deployed to the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, targeting homeowners impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
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 Program (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 Program on the recipient islands.
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 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.
Bryan Knowles, chairman of Rotary Bahamas Disaster Relief stated that “Rotarians are guided first and foremost by our motto ‘Service Above Self’ and our service is categorized 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.
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 revitalization of areas hit by disaster, which often makes us the last ones to leave.”
Mr 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 mobilize donations for the restoration of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
In the aftermath of the hurricane, the UNDP donated over 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 $3.4 billion in damages, which is equal to one-quarter of The Bahamas’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).