Ten households will be assisted by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) in repairing their roofs, which were damaged by heavy winds last month.
But Chief Secretary Orville London is warning that the THA should not be expected to take financial responsibility for the damaged caused to homes in such circumstances.
The Assembly will provide $219,830 worth of materials to assist the ten homes, London stated, adding that some of the other cases are still under review.
“We have to make a judgment call as to how we intervene because we cannot function as an insurance company,” London said at yesterday’s media briefing at the Administrative Complex in Calder Hall.
The Chief Secretary said some people voiced concerns about the THA’s response to the damage caused by last month’s inclement weather.
“Disaster relief is how we respond to bring immediate relief to persons suffering from disaster,” he said, adding: “Restoration takes time, and it cannot be complete restoration (done exclusively by the THA).”
London said the needs of affected families and the resources available determine the level of relief the Assembly can provide. According to the Chief Secretary many of the houses that were damaged are in a poor state of repair or poorly constructed and are “uninsurable.”
London said the Tobago Emergency Management Authority (TEMA) deals with immediate relief when homes suffer damage, while the Division of Health and Social Services (DHSS) ensures affected residents receives food where necessary.
TEMA, along with the Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (DIPU), and the Division of Health, then begins the lengthy process of evaluating the damage and the resulting situations of affected residents. This is done under the supervision of the Office of the Chief Administrator, which is responsible for disaster management.
The THA will now look at a policy on disaster relief outlining how the Assembly responds to disaster relief, and possibly to limit the amount of assistance “regardless of the circumstances.”
London reiterated the Assembly’s commitment to assisting Tobagonians in mitigating disaster. He said the Division of Settlements and Labour will introduce a disaster mitigation programme that encourages homeowners to construct houses that are less disaster prone.