Assessments have been completed on more than 75 per cent of the houses damaged by Hurricane Elsa earlier this month.
However, Government’s progress in rebuilding homes is being hindered by a lack of paperwork showing ownership of land.
That was explained by Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance Dr William Duguid as he gave an update on the headway being made into rebuilding and repairing the hundreds of homes that were damaged when the hurricane passed on July 2.
He said while Government continued to push ahead with completing repairs, in some cases they could not do so for some homes that were significantly damaged and had to be completely rebuilt. The Housing Minister said some homeowners have not been able to prove they are the rightful owners of the lands on which the house is to be reconstructed.
“Of the 2 077 that were reported, we’ve finished about four to five parishes so far. We’ve completed about 75 per cent of the assessments and we have 367 that are rebuilds and all of the rest are repairs. We have to do the assessments first and the ones that we have assessed, what we are trying to do is to prioritize those repairs, get those repairs done as quickly as possible. There are people who we actually have in rented accommodation and we want to get those repairs done and those persons back to their houses.
“The issue of the rebuilds is a little more complex. There are some people who have their land papers and they are ready to go. There are others whose houses are on the land but don’t have land papers [because] it is family land or was passed down from one person to the next and we are working through that process to legally be able to sort them out. And then there is another subset that cannot show how they have gotten to occupy that land,” Duguid explained.
“So, all of those issues we are working out with respect to the rebuilds and those are things that are attracting our legal department to be able to get all of those areas, all of those concepts and issues ratified. But from the repairs part of things, we’ve identified contractors, small artisans who are going to be assisting us and getting all of those repairs done as quickly as we can.”
Minister Duguid encouraged those affected persons who are able to get repairs done to do so and to reach out to the National Housing Corporation (NHC) for assistance in sourcing materials.
He maintained that this was a faster option than waiting for Government.
“If you can get the repairs done yourself just give us a list of materials – that is the fastest way. I think we have issued about 70-odd people with materials already and that is a success story for us,” Duguid said.
“Once we get your materials list we send in people to verify it. It’s not that we are giving you materials free to finish your house, that’s not where we are. You send your materials list and once we can verify that you’ve had storm damage and that materials list is equivalent to what we anticipate the materials list to be, then the NHC is able to get the materials to you and you can get the repairs done with your own labour and that is the best way and the fastest way to finish your repairs.”