Marine businesses in northern Bahamas eligible for grants after Dorian

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Bahamas Grant Grand Bahamas Yacht Club

Hubert Minnis, prime minister of the Bahamas, said during a weekend press conference that a fund had been established to help boating businesses in the Abacos that were impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

Minnis said the government will establish a $1.5 million loan and grant program for marine businesses in economic recovery zones on the impacted islands. “The grant program will provide up to $50,000 to help restore these businesses that are an important part of getting the affected communities and economic up and running again,” Minnis told The Tribune.

A half-dozen marinas in Grand Bahama and the Abacos were damaged after Hurricane Dorian stopped stalled there in late August, including Treasure Cay Beach Marina and Golf Resort, Leeward Yacht Club and Marina, Hope Town Inn and Marina, Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club, and Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour. Several have resumed operations, according to the Association of Bahamas Marinas.

Several weeks earlier, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, who serves Florida's 18th congressional district, visited Treasure Cay Marina, the Northern Abaco Volunteer Fire Hall and a heavily damaged Haitian village where families still live. Mast met with the volunteer fire chief, who showed him the destroyed fire hall. The roof is missing, and the firetrucks were totaled.

Mast told local media that the spirits of people on the island were not as damaged as their homes. “As I speak to anyone back home, it will be my firsthand account of what I saw,” he said. “This is the devastation. You’ve seen it on television, but if you haven’t smelled it, you need to get over to the Bahamas and inspire others to take their time and resources to come over.”

Mast told the local news station that he’s committed to making sure the people of the Bahamas are not forgotten. He added that he plans to use his role on the House Foreign Relations Committee to help.

Other organizations are assisting in the recovery efforts. On Grand Bahama, 3,656 damaged buildings have been assessed so far. Just over half received minimal damage, Minnis said, with 19 percent having medium damage, 16 percent major damage and 8 percent destroyed. Minnis said organizations, both private and public, have committed funding to rebuild the islands.

They include the Bahamas National Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund, the International Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse and other private groups. Those who were displaced by the hurricane will be housed in a special section of 125 to 250 “domes,” or temporary houses that are part of the Abaco’s Family Relief Centre. The first shipment of 40 domes is scheduled to arrive this month. Minnis said “illegal aliens,” which includes many Haitians, would not be eligible for the temporary housing.

Bahamians who lost homes can also apply for a $10,000 grant. They will be paid through an “independent and non-political body to help fund home and building repairs,” Minnis said. “The fund will receive applications from Bahamians in need and work with preselected contractors and project managers to preapprove applications, inspect homes, and disburse funds directly to contractors or building suppliers.”

Minnis said partnerships are being formed with private groups to help schools damaged by Dorian. Baker’s Bay, he said, will adopt schools in Coopers Town, Green Turtle Cay and Hope Town while they are being rebuilt.

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