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Abaco Shelter Building Project Makes Substantial Progress

Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas, Friday, November 24, 2023 – The Abaco hurricane shelter building project met a significant milestone when it was inspected and enthusiastically endorsed by the High Commissioner for India to Jamaica, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Island Shri R. Masakui, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Assistant Resident Representative, Ava Whyte-Anderson.

The Government of India, represented by High Commissioner Shri R. Masakui, is a significant donor to the project, providing financial support through the UNDP’s multi-country office in Jamaica.

The Hon. Myles K. LaRoda and the executive leadership of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) led this important site visit, which also included officials from the Ministry of Disaster Risk Management and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The DRA oversees the project and is pleased to receive positive commendation from the Indian government and the UNDP. The Authority has been working for many months to correct severe deficiencies in the building’s foundation that were uncovered after the organization inherited the project from the previous administrative team. Several caverns, some as deep as twenty feet, were found underneath the building’s foundation, which the DRA’s current leadership team met in place. These caverns compromised the structure, rendering it unsafe and at risk of collapse.

These foundation issues posed an unexpected hurdle and required significant and strategic remediation by the DRA team and its contractors to ensure the strength and safety of the shelter.

During the site visit, the delegation was given a project brief by project manager Chris Symonette of Chris Symonette and Associates and contractors Wilkem Solutions. A tour of the structure and site ensued, and the structure is starting to take visible shape.

The delegation, having gained a deeper appreciation for the substantial mitigation work conducted to bring the project to this promising stage, expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved and commended the combined efforts of the DRA’s team, the project managers, and local contractors for getting the project back on track.

“There’s been a lot of anticipation [leading up to this trip], and we’ve been getting the reports and writeups, but there is nothing like seeing it firsthand, and I couldn’t be more pleased with what I’ve seen,” said High Commissioner Shri R. Masakui.

The Indian government’s funding has played a crucial role in revitalizing this vital project, which the Indian government chose to support as a show of solidarity with the Bahamian people. High Commissioner Shri R. Masakui said, “Although [our countries] are 15,000 km apart, we still remember The Bahamas as our brothers and sisters – in the name of one world, one family.”

Minister LaRoda and the DRA’s executive team expressed deep appreciation on behalf of The Bahamas’ government for the Indian government’s support, which will help ensure that the Abaco residents benefit from a safe hurricane shelter and community center.

“Thank you very much for the confidence you’ve expressed in us in providing us with this gift, which will go a long way…and we’re glad that you are here to see the progress that we’ve been making.” said the DRA’s Chairman, H. Alex Storr.

The project has garnered delegation satisfaction, prompting continued progress despite being only the first installment of the $1,000,000.00 donation from the Indian Government. The shelter is expected to be partially complete and available for use if needed, by the start of the 2024 hurricane season and fully completed by the end of 2024. The DRA is looking forward to presenting this community center to the residents of Abaco.

In addition to visiting the Abaco hurricane shelter site, the delegation also visited several storm-damaged homes that the DRA has repaired under its Homeowner Assistance and Relief Program (HARP) and the debris management site in Spring City, which the contractor has begun the process of demobilizing.

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