The Bottom, Saba- SABA—The Recovery Funds Houses programme of the Public Entity Saba, financed by the Dutch government, is nearing the end. Close to 100 individual persons, four churches and four hotels received assistance to repair damages to their properties after the 2017 hurricanes.
The Saba government confirmed that the registration for assistance under the programme has closed and that requests are no longer accepted. The last requests that were submitted are currently being handled while a few contracts to repair people’s dwellings are still in execution. In total $3.7 million euro was allocated for the repair of private homes, hotels, churches, government buildings and facilities, and playgrounds.
In total close to 110 recipients made use of the funding that was available to repair the damage that was caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria. 45 persons were assisted with materials only. Contracts were signed for another 45 persons to have their homes repaired, based on an assessment of the damage and an estimation of government’s Planning Bureau. Out of the latter 45 persons, 13 were also assisted with fixing the damage inside the house. These interior contracts included new doors, windows and kitchen cabinets.
Reimbursements were paid to eight private individuals who were advised to repair their homes and to request a reimbursement later. Eight government buildings were fixed, as were four churches and four hotels. All reconstruction funding for the schools were covered by a separate recovery fund especially for the schools.
The Saba government placed multiple bulk orders for construction material abroad in order to execute the necessary renovations and to assist people with materials. Government purchased most materials in bulk, of which ‘galvalume’ eight times, roof screws four times, stainless screws three times, lumber two times and doors, paint and spouts each one time.
The first bulk order was placed right after hurricane Irma, before hurricane Maria. The Saba government used its own reserve funds for this first order because quick action was needed so people could be assisted as soon as possible. There was some delay in the arrival of the bulk orders because of the multiple hurricanes that ravaged the Caribbean and Florida in 2017 which created a shortage of construction material.
The Public Entity paid for alternate rent for persons who were displaced from their homes due to severe hurricane damage until their homes were made liveable again. Funds were also used to demolish four dwellings that were in a very bad state and would pose a danger with future hurricanes and flying projectiles.
The 3.7 million euro was part of the total amount of 23.7 million euro that the Dutch government made available for Saba’s recovery after the 2017 hurricanes. Also received from Dutch State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops was an additional 2 million euros for other recovery purposes.
The Recovery Funds Houses program started right after hurricane Irma and is running towards its end with the closure of the registration and the last funding allocation being wrapped up. The finalisation of the program is slated for the first quarter of 2019 with the repairing of the last dwellings.
Build back better
The principle of building back better and future hurricane proof was applied in the Recovery Funds Houses program, as with all hurricane related projects. In some cases, part of the roof was rebuilt using concrete to create a safe area in the house.
Also, in all cases the roof and house structure were inspected and if need be were strengthened. Even though this means a lengthier construction period, it is important to rebuild hurricane proof, said Commissioner of Bruce Zagers who is in charge of Planning and Public Works. The focus was to first fix houses before the government buildings.
The pace of construction under the Recovery Funds Houses program was influenced by the limited availability of contractors which were flooded with work after the hurricanes. “The priority was to make as many homes as possible hurricane proof before the peak of the 2018 hurricane season,” said Zagers, who explained that contractors moved from roof to roof to repair as many as possible.
In the most severe cases of hurricane damage, people got assistance to replace their furniture, fridge and stove. This was funded separately through the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour SZW.
The Public Entity thanked the Dutch Government for making the funding available to repair and strengthen as many houses as possible. Saba’s government Planning Bureau and Finance Department played a big role in the Recovery Funds Houses program.