This disclosure has come from Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Joseph Atherley, who said that 190 houses had been repaired or rebuilt at a cost of nearly $5 million following the passage of the tropical storm on September 7, 2004.
"We're at the stage of completion, all the documented cases of which we were aware have been addressed...There were five or six houses which were damaged but were not reported to the Central Emergency Relief Organisation (CERO); so we are now trying to see how we can address that situation," Mr. Atherley said.
Investigations by a CERO team showed that 531 houses had been damaged by the storm and a social economic survey was carried out to determine the financial means of those persons whose homes were impacted. Damage to the houses ranged from minor to substantial and it was determined that there were under 200 that merited some assistance from government based on the criteria set.
"The nearly 200 cases were equally divided between levels one and two and levels three and four. So, you had 90-odd houses that had minor damage and needed an immediate response to make circumstances as close to normal as possible; and then levels three and four had another 90-plus which required complete rebuilding in some instances," Mr. Atherley explained.
Persons who were helped were those who did not have the funds to attempt their own repairs, including the indigent, elderly and the disabled. The agencies involved in the project are the National Housing Corporation (NHC), the Urban Development Commission (UDC), the Rural Development Commission (RDC) and the Ministry of Public Works.
Roy Ward, Consultant to the Ministry of Home Affairs on Emergency Management, said some issues arose regarding the title and ownership of some parcels of land. "We found that some of the people who had claimed for 100 per cent service from government did not own the land, or owned the land but did not own the house or owned the house but did not own the land; and then there were landlord issues.
"Some of them could not prove residency, some of them were renting the properties and living somewhere else, so we had issues of title and authentication and some family disputes were involved...So, there's a monitoring process in place to make sure the materials go where they are supposed to go, and that the houses belong to rightful owners," Mr. Ward explained.
He added that technical issues also surfaced with the four government agencies because they had different housing and design mandates, but the project forced them to create a uniform standard and develop a definition for personal dwellings that would also be used in 2006.