Hurricane Dorian made landfall in The Bahamas on September 1st, 2019 ravaging the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. One year has passed since this devastating storm lashed our islands, claiming lives, homes and businesses. It is estimated that some locations in Grand Bahama experienced storm surges of over 20ft affecting some 400 businesses and between 8000-9000 homes.
As we now commemorate the one-year anniversary of the worst disaster in our country’s history, we remember those who lost their lives in the storm and the families that they left behind.
We also remember those who worked tirelessly before, during and after the storm – their heroic efforts will never be forgotten. We remember all that was lost in the storm, and we reflect on the immense progress we have made in rebuilding our communities. While there is still much more to be done, we have already made tremendous strides and continue every day in our efforts toward restoration.
OVER THE PAST YEAR WE CONTINUED REBUILDING THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY
- The Small Business Development Center has disbursed over $3 million to assist over 113 micro and small businesses affected by Hurricane Dorian.
- The largest amount of Economic Concessions in our country’s history were provided for Grand Bahama and Abaco which were declared Economic Recovery Zones. There were a record number of food items and construction items made duty and VAT free. In addition, residents have been able to replace the many vehicles destroyed by Doreen, completely duty free. Concessions have been extended through the end of 2020.
OVER THE PAST YEAR WE CONTINUED TO SUPPORT BAHAMIANS WHO HAD LOST LIVELIHOODS
- The Department of Social Services in Grand Bahama has to date disbursed over $1,798,693.00 in rent payments to landlords on behalf of Grand Bahamians and over $332,542.07 in vouchers were issued for the purchase of appliances and beds to assist residents displaced as a result of Hurricane Dorian.
- The National Insurance Board in Grand Bahama made significant payouts to residents affected by Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19. Unemployment Assistance payments to date total over $1,058,403.08. Unemployment Benefit payments totaled over $1,563,065.59 disbursed to residents in Freeport, East Grand Bahama and West Grand Bahama.
- To date, through The Disaster Reconstruction Authority's Small Home Repair Program approximately 2,000 Grand Bahamians have been approved for assistance. Some $3,257,170 has been put directly into the hands of Bahamian companies and homes. Bahamian contractors received over $9 million for debris removal throughout the island since the hurricane.
OVER THE PAST YEAR WE CONTINUE REBUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE
- $4.5 million in contracts were awarded in June 2020 for major reconstruction to 15 schools in Grand Bahama, representing the largest rebuilding and restoration project for schools ever and providing some 275 construction jobs.** This project ongoing will be completed in the next few weeks.**
- $21 million has been allocated for the phased redevelopment of the Rand Memorial Hospital. Work is steadily progressing with demolition, new construction, additions, and renovations. Rand Memorial Hospital Restoration, started on the 29th April 2020, and is scheduled to end on the 29th September 2020. **It covers the main entrance, foyer, pharmacy, admissions and pediatrics; and It is currently 80% completed. **2. The Rand Memorial Hospital Restoration, Part B started on 29th April, 2020 and is scheduled for completion in October 2020; **it includes the Medical, Surgical, Step-Down, and Intensive Care Units; and it is currently 65% completed. **3. The Rand Memorial Hospital Restoration Part C project is expected to be completed in November 2020; **the project scope will encompass the East Wing, Public Corridor, the Healing Gardens and Chapel; and it is currently 45% completed. 4. The Rand Memorial Hospital Restoration of the Main Operating Theatre Suites, Post Anesthesia Unit and Central Sterile Supplies Department is currently 95% completed. **5. The Rand Memorial Hospital COVID-19 Program incorporates 3 projects: • the COVID-19 Infectious Disease Unit; the Infectious Disease Unit Cancer Association project; and • the completion of the Kitchen Cafeteria and is scheduled to end on the 3rd September, 2020. Currently, this project is 98% completed. The Infectious Disease Unit Cancer Association project is scheduled to end by 25th September. This project is currently 85% completed. The Kitchen Cafeteria Completion project is 90% completed. By early September, the Infectious Disease Unit at the Rand Memorial Hospital is expected to be ready for occupancy.By the end of October 2020, renovations to Pediatrics, Pharmacy, Admissions, the Lobby, Doctor’s Offices, On-Call and Nurses’ Suite, the Morgue and the surrounding corridors and other works for each space are scheduled to be completed.
- The Fishing Hole Road Bridge has been completed and officially opened. The $9.2 million construction sits 12 ft. above sea level, has a life-span of 50 years and has been built durable to withstand powerful future storms.
- The Office of the Prime Minister, Grand Bahama, has been provided with the funding to completely rebuild the McLean’s Town Administrative Complex in conjunction with The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management & Reconstruction. The Complex in East Grand, which housed the Royal Bahama Police Force, as well as ferry service offices supporting inter-island travel between Grand Bahama and Abaco.
- Initial emergency cleanup and road works were carried out in West End, McClean’s Town, Freetown, Grand Bahama Highway and High Rock. Currently a sea wall is being designed and scoped for High Rock to provide coastal road protection. This year we will complete the reconstruction of approximately 8 miles of road in East, Central and West Grand Bahama. The works will comprise hotmix asphalt at a cost of $6.1 million.
- Temporary repairs were completed at the Freeport Post Office following Hurricane Dorian. Major renovations costing approximately cost $3,300,000 will commence this month for the full restoration of the Post Office.
- The first floor of the Harold DeGregory Building was completed destroyed and flooded. Today the building’s first floor has been completely restored.
- The government is continuing discussions with Hutchison Ports along with the Grand Bahama Port Authority with the view to finalizing an agreement on the best way forward in rebuilding a world-class Grand Bahama Airport. In the interim, a temporary structure is indeed open and fully functional, operating regular daily international and domestic flights. Work continues to proceed on the further enhancement of the temporary facility.
OVER THE PAST YEAR WE HAVE CONTINUED PROGRESSING MAJOR ECONOMIC PROJECTS
- Prior to the passage of Hurricane Dorian, the Bahamas Government executed the Heads of Agreement with Carnival Corporation for the Development of a 100 million cruise port. In addition, following the passage of Hurricane Dorian, the Government also signed an Agreement for Sale for the Grand Lucayan and a Heads of Agreement with respect to a 200 million hotel and cruise port project with Royal Caribbean Cruise line and the ITM Group. While both projects have been delayed because of Covid-19 both Developers have confirmed they are moving forward with the developments.
Grand Bahamians are among the most resilient in the nation. There is still much work to be done but through the grace of God and continued hard work, we will fully restore our island even better than before.