George Butcher and his brothers home was??destroyed by Tropical Storm Tomas.

In an effort to ensure that persons disadvantaged as a result of the passage of tropical storm Tomas, the Ministry of Housing, Lands, Urban and Rural Development has set up a rapid response team to assess damage and carry out repairs.

This was announced on Tuesday by Housing Minister, Michael Lashley, as he joined members of the team for a tour of damaged houses in Christ Church, St, Michael and St. Philip.?? The team, which comprises artisans and staff from the technical department of the Ministry, will visit other parishes next week.

Mr. Lashley, while visiting the home of Deborah Harewood and her two sons, as well as and George Butcher and his brother, both of Blades Hill, in St. Philip, noted that the team had seen many roofs that had been blown off and some homes that were completely destroyed.

The home of Deborah Harewood of Blades Hill??that??lost itss roof during the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas.??

"I want to assure Barbadians that we will be working around the clock to make sure that they are comfortable again and that the houses are properly repaired.?? Obviously, we will need to deal with it as a priority.?? I am appealing to all carpenters and labourers to assist the unfortunate ones who suffered damage.?? We have a team of carpenters here to start assessing the damage and trying to get homes back in a liveable condition for families.?? We are working as a joint group to get these roofs back on," he said.

Minister Lashley also called on private landlords to assist the Ministry by providing accommodation to persons who, as a result of damage to their homes, had no where to stay. He maintained that the passage of the storm re-emphasised the necessity of having a legally binding building code in place.?? Though still collecting information, Mr. Lashley reported that at least some 300 houses had been extensively damaged.??

"Some of the workmanship is questionable but we know that sometimes people build within their budget. We have to put laws into place as well as checks and balances within the legislation. It makes no sense to have building regulations without policing mechanisms.?? We have to assign inspectors as well as look at what it would cost the low income earner to build a house, and whether complying to those standards would make building more expensive.?? Yes we want quality living conditions, but we have to bear in mind costs," he pointed out.

The Housing Minister, however, underlined that the work presently being carried out by the Ministry was of a high standard, as the NHC’s technical team was supervising work done and complied with town planning and building regulations.

Assistant Chief Technical Officer at the NHC, Russell Armstrong, took the opportunity to advise private artisans who were repairing homes to do so efficiently.??

"Suppose we have another system soon??? We have to ensure that work done is done in the right way.?? The nature of the damage should be as a result of the force of the storm and not because of what we have done as tradesmen.?? The material in the initial phases is not the problem, it is the degradation, over time.?? That is why we are helping underprivileged persons who do not have the resources to help themselves in most cases.?? So, I think that if you as an artisan are called out to help these people, you should try your best to advise them about the proper use of materials and construction techniques to assist them," Mr. Armstrong said.

He urged persons who were experiencing discomfort as a result of damage to their homes and could not help themselves, to call the Department of Emergency Management, so that their plight could be recorded on the national list for action.??

The rapid response team also visited the Crane, St. Philip, Thornbury Hill, Christ Church and Bellevue, St. Michael.????lbayley@barbados.gov.bb

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