Saturday, April 20, 2024

Wait for homes


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IT COULD BE another six months before Barbadians whose houses were destroyed by Tropical Storm Tomas could get a new home.
That’s the word from Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite ahead of a meeting with the Department of Emergency Management team today, and one on Monday of the special Cabinet sub-committee set up in the wake of Tomas. Both meetings are being held to assess the progress that has been made to date.
Following the initial estimate given by the Government of $37 million in damages, Brathwaite said the immediate priority was to deal with the 140 homes that have to be replaced.
“We estimate that it will be a 12-week process from start to finish in the construction of the houses. But you will appreciate that there will be issues of ownership of land, Town & Country Planning permission etc., so overall it may take six months before a person may get back into his or her house,” said Brathwaite.
The minister was responding to a report yesterday in the United States-based industry publication Insurance Journal which indicated that the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) had already paid out US$8.5 million to Barbados.
The bulletin released by the CCRIF said that St Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines had also received 50 per cent of their payouts on November 7, seven days after the storms passage on October 30-31, which is “well before the end of the customary 14-day waiting period”.
The report quoted Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, as saying that the early payment would facilitate “urgent restoration of services and clearing of the affected areas”.
Brathwaite told the WEEKEND NATION that at last check a week ago Barbados had received US$2 million from the CCRIF to deal with its immediate storm recovery, and that he would have to make inquiries in the Ministry of Finance to find out if the remainder was in hand.
The minister explained that since the storm Government has had to provide temporary shelter in various places including guest houses.
“There have been lots of cases where we had to house persons following an assessment of the Welfare Department,” said Brathwaithe, who is also the Attorney General.
He noted that apart from the CCRIF funds, there was an additional $20 million available in a National Catastrophe Fund to deal with such eventualities but he noted there was still work to be done with a view to estimating the cost, working through the claims and setting up the appropriate response mechanisms.  (SP/KJ)


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