Government’s top priority following the passage of Hurricane Elsa on July 2 is on reconstructing homes completely destroyed by the category one system.
Such houses, said Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred Abrahams, will include homes that were now lying on the ground “as a pack of cards, or are no longer where they were.
“Then that is a total disruption and we know that those houses have to be rebuilt…. There is no need to do much further assessment,” he pointed out.
He was speaking this afternoon during a post Hurricane Elsa update press conference from the National Emergency Operations Centre, which is still activated at the Department of Emergency Management.
“The priority, at this point in time, is validating the claims for total loss of houses…to try to get remedial action taken for those who have lost their houses entirely; houses that are unfit and cannot be rehabilitated; that is the focus right now of the Ministry of Housing [and Lands], RDC, UDC….
“We have to look out for the most vulnerable… in our communities. We know who they are,” he said.
He gave the assurance that all of the critical agencies were working to carry out assessments and place persons whose lives were dislocated, or whose homes or properties were actually lost.
However, the Minister noted that houses which sustained damage would not be left out, but would first need to be assessed to see what was needed to return it to a sense of normalcy.
He called on those with insurance to “lean on their insurance” first, and if they were in a position to help themselves, then do so, as Government would take responsibility for those who fell below the poverty line.
For those reporting damage, Mr. Abrahams urged them to call the DEM at 438-7575, and provide as much information as possible, with a picture and geotag to expedite investigations to validate the claims to facilitate the start of work.
“If you are not in a position to do so yourselves, where it is a case that you have sustained minimal damage, but you are still not able to help yourself, and you need materials only, then we need to know that, so that we can get those materials to you as quickly as possible…,” he said.
The Minister noted that while insurance companies were reporting an initial $5 million in damages and losses following the passage of the system last Friday, that only represented data collected so far, and was not a final number.
He added that the majority of destruction across Barbados occurred on uninsured homes. “We have seen a lot of houses flattened on the ground [and] we don’t yet have a dollar figure as to what that value is,” he said, noting that assessments and the data collection process were ongoing.
The Minister gave the assurance that during this difficult time, Government was leaving “no stone unturned” to bring relief to residents.