DRA Chairman Alex Storr: DRA spent $70 mil. to date

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Alex Storr DRA Chairman

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government will seek to merge the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) into a single entity.

DRA chairman Alex Storr revealed the planned change yesterday as he announced the launch of the government’s Home Assistance and Relief Programme (HARP).

The programme will replace the now discontinued small home repairs initiative launched under the Minnis administration to assist homeowners affected by Hurricane Dorian on Abaco and Grand Bahama. 

During a weekly press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday Storr noted that, unlike the previous initiative, the DRA will seek to purchase building supplies in bulk and employ skilled labour to assist with the relief initiative. Assessments will begin on September 1 and last roughly two weeks.

“To all the persons living in the declared disaster zones of Abaco and Grand Bahama, we have heard your cries,” said Storr.

“We have been busy taking the necessary steps to transform the DRA from the hastily crafted authority we met in place to an efficient, functioning agency. We are proud of the team we have assembled and the Bahamian public will start to feel the positive effects.”

Noting that the DRA will have boots on the ground beginning today, Storr stated that new legislation is being crafted to restructure disaster management agencies. A new entity, which the DRA and NEMA will merge under, will focus on “disaster risk mitigation”, “resiliency planning” and ” rapid response and recovery”.

Storr said that when he assumed the chairmanship of the DRA he met “every project with foundational issues”. According to Storr, not only was the previous initiative oversubscribed but many of the repairs sought did not align with the categories of damages outlined. 

Storr recalled that he had seen a purchase order for a $2,500 mattress, adding that there were many items that were not on the approved list but were approved by persons within the DRA.

Additionally, Storr claimed many persons who needed assistance did not receive it under the small home repairs scheme and there were others who never applied under the programme. Though he could not give an exact figure as to how many persons may still be in need of home repairs, Storr revealed that there were 1,500 persons registered in the DRA’s system under the previous initiative. The DRA Chairman noted that all outstanding purchase orders under the small home repairs programme will be cancelled.

Storr also noted that based on the DRA’s documentation, the Authority has spent some $70 million to date, a figure he says is “climbing.” According to Storr, the bulk of that sum was allocated to debris management.

HARP is being funded through the DRA’s budgetary allocation as well as donations. Storr says the new programme has roughly $2 million thus far.