The Bahamas Hurricane Dorian Relief
On September 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane in The Bahamas with wind speeds in excess of 185mph, lashing The Bahamian islands of Great Abaco (pop. ~17,200) and Grand Bahama (pop. ~51,000). After striking The Bahamas, Dorian’s traveling speed slowed to 1 mph over Grand Bahama, prolonging the island’s exposure to life-threatening storm surges of 18-23 feet above normal tide levels. Dorian is the strongest hurricane on record for The Bahamas and has tied a record for the strongest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall.
COVID-19 Safety Measures
Review our COVID-19 Safety Measures & Updates to learn about the new operational standards we’re implementing on program to safeguard the people in the communities we serve, volunteers and staff.
Our Bahamas Extension Program began in late November, with immense support from our local and global partners, we’re committed to performing continuous work in The Bahamas through March 2022.
We have been supporting the communities of Great Abaco since Hurricane Dorian devastated the island in 2019. In addition to clearing hurricane wreckage and putting roofs on homes, to date we have reconstructed eight school campuses culminating with the completion of Little Darlings Academy in the summer of 2021. 1,300 students have been provided with a safe, disaster-resilient and engaging place to learn and thrive. The immense support from The TK Foundation last fall has enabled us to remain in the community, where we are now intensifying our focus to the lagging housing recovery. Our decision was two-fold: 1) schools have been greatly supported by the government and non-government organizations, whereas home recovery had been neglected, and 2) Bahamian government funds have been depleted and the cost of home repairs is not commensurate with local salary. For more than two years, many homeowners have not been able to return home.
Although two years have passed, the level of need on the island is still large with over 75% of all homes damaged or destroyed by Dorian. The overarching goal of this program is to get families back in their homes. We will focus on 17 scopes of work that can be divided into three areas: roofing, interior response and interior rebuild. Roof repair and replacement work is one of the highest and more expensive needs for residents on Abaco, so we continue to run our Resilient Roof Repair & Rebuild Program to support the needs of as many homes as possible. We’re also engaging in response work, including mucking/gutting, debris removal, and mold/sanitation work in homes to prepare them for additional support. Finally, we’ll be supporting families with long needed interior repairs, doors and windows and rebuild scopes to help bring homes up to a liveable standard.
Our dedicated Community Coordinator, Lakesha, has brought a beautiful energy to this program. She continuously looks for ways to connect our All Hands and Hearts teams with her Abaco community. She has done an excellent job of enriching the lives of international staff and volunteers and the local community.
“The people I have worked with are beyond amazing as they are focused, determined and actual leaders, who always make time to teach or explain something. It felt purposeful to be a part of this team. I learned that communication and planning with a bit of fun make life slightly better which still gets the task completed.”
Throughout the program, volunteers have been hard at work on residential homes and recognize the importance of getting families back in their homes for winter. The three areas of work, roofing, interior response and rebuild, are often interdependent and teams first will focus on protecting homes from the elements before moving on to response work, such as muck and guts, debris removal and mold sanitation, and finally preparing the home for interior repairs and rebuilds.
We’re in the final month of this program and the team has really extended themselves to complete the last few homes in the work queue. We’re finishing the final touches on the interior of Rochelle B.’s home and installing the kitchen counters and sinks. Our homeowners are excited to see the amazing work that has been done and are looking forward to finally moving home.
A small team remains on the island and continues to provide long-term recovery support while they ramp down the program. A key aspect of this long-term support, above the roofing and home repairs, is the provision of maintenance manuals. These manuals provide a detailed guide customized to each homeowner for preventative maintenance that will ensure its longevity.
It’s a bitter-sweet moment as we close The Bahamas Hurricane Dorian Relief Program after over two years of working on Great Abaco. We are grateful to the community, our generous partners, volunteers, and staff who have dedicated their time, funds and resources to this community.
Project Spotlight: Roof Rebuilds
Roof repair and replacement is one of the highest and most expensive needs on the island of Great Abaco. Since we began our Roof Repair and Rebuild Project in The Bahamas we have completed 52 roofs. On each home we have implemented resilient building techniques to strengthen the structures against potential future disasters. Take a look at this short video of the roof rebuild progress of Laperta Simm’s home. (Video description: The roof trusses – which form the roof’s frame – have been built on the ground and lifted into place once completed. In this video you can see the delicate process of one of the trusses being lifted into place.)
Project Spotlight: Hurricane Shutters
We are committed to rebuilding disaster-resilient homes that are fortified and ready should a future disaster hit the area, helping the communities of Great Abaco become stronger in the face of disasters.
The team added a new scope of work: hurricane shutters, The household equivalent of “battening down the hatches” on a ship, the shutters equip homeowners with a proven strategy fortifying their home’s defenses before a storm hits. So far, we have equipped eight homes with this important solution and the team is currently working on fitting additional homes with shutters. Take a look at this short video to hear from the team on the importance of hurricane shutters.
We are currently working on doors, windows and interior repairs on the home of Mr. Gary Lewis, a teacher at Every Child Counts (school rebuilt by the AHAH Marsh Harbour Recovery Program). Mr. Lewis Lost his home in Hurricane Dorian and has been living in temporary housing for more than two years.
As with so many on Great Abaco, the process to rebuild has been prohibitively expensive for a variety of reasons, none of which are within the control of homeowners most in need of assistance.
After mold and sanitation on the structural components, we’re making steady progress towards turning 4 walls and a roof back into a home. The program team has nearly completed wrapping/siding the exterior of the house, interior structural retrofits and installing drywall.
Mr. Lewis continues his work teaching at ECC, making a lasting impact on the students as they grow into young adults. He radiates warmth and passion even when faced with his own adversity, say the staff and volunteers who have had the good fortune to know him. We are honored to be working for such an inspirational person, and were thrilled to hand over the keys to Mr. Lewis earlier this month. . Take a look at this video of the finished home and messages from volunteers and staff members who have had the privilege of working with Mr. Lewis over the years.
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