What's the Short Term Housing Plan?




North America and Southeast Asia have had to deal with hurricanes and typhoons for centuries. With this challenge, architectural and engineering technology have been adapted to generate buildings that may withstand the elements of nature. The southern USA has been visited by several category 4 and 5 Hurricanes that has caused multiple-billion-dollar damages and loss of life. This has impressed upon authorities the need to institute more stringent building codes, develop evacuation protocol and strategies for public management before, during and after a hurricane. For example, about 25 years ago, Hurricane Andrew hit Miami with 185 miles/hour winds, directly killed 26 persons (with 40 more death indirectly) and caused 26 billion dollars in damage. Loss of life and property was attributed to Florida’s mishmash of lax building codes. In the wake of this disaster, Florida instituted more stringent building codes and Counties further strengthened these regulations in relation to their regional risks for wind damage and flooding.

With 6 weeks to go before the end of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Dominica finds itself in the unfortunate situation of having suffered the highest per capita loss of life and property during the current season, when compared with all other countries. The island has to grapple with the massive task of re-establishing housing stock over a 7-8 month period before the start of 2018 Hurricane season. What's the best approach? It's all well and good to have a long term Hurricane-resilient Housing strategy, but what is the short-term housing plan?
Some Considerations:-  
1. Relocate persons now living in Shelters.
2. Assist those now living in roofless, but otherwise structurally sound homes
3. Building dedicated Community Hurricane Shelters.
4. Relocating those living in valleys and riverbeds that are prone to flooding.

Many of the aforementioned suggestions should have been implemented post TS Erika. However, they were not and, so Dominica is behind the curve ball at this time. One way of getting persons out of schools used as shelters is to source multi-family homes in communities that can be made safe. For example, upgrading the old Grammar school in Roseau is one possibility. In the Picard, several multi-family buildings were under-occupied pre-Maria. These could be considered for housing persons from nearby West Coast communities at high risk for flooding. Building dedicated hurricane shelters, where needed, can be quickly accomplished with the assistance of international architectural and engineering groups. However, the administration must be flexible and receptive to various ideas. Dominicans continue to hope for the best and that the Administration will do the right thing in the interest of all Dominicans.

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