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Published 6th September 2007, 4:18pm

Government intends to dedicate resources to assist persons in need in reinforcing their homes for protection against hurricanes, Leader of Government Business Hon. Kurt Tibbetts has said. Mr. Tibbetts was speaking in the Legislative Assembly in response to a question from a Member who asked whether there is a plan to protect existing homes from storm damage. Replying, Minister Tibbetts said that there will be an on-going programme of assistance: "This assistance may take several forms. It may mean securing plywood, or perhaps providing labour to cut the plywood to fit openings, or possibly assisting some in installing the protective shutters in the face of an impending storm," Mr Tibbetts told the House Monday, 3 September. He said that in order for this programme to work, government will be relying on the department of Children and Family Services, the various District Committees, service clubs, and other volunteer organisations. "We will not only be asking for their assistance in providing labour, we will be looking to them to help us identify those in greatest need of assistance," he added. Mr Tibbetts said that the passage of Hurricane Dean last month served to remind us that while many persons may be able to repair their homes, they cannot afford the cost of retrofitting their buildings with hurricane shutters and impact-resistant windows. "I saw the scramble to secure plywood, and I met several people who, for various reasons, were not in a position to secure their homes themselves." The matter of retrofitting of buildings was the other part of the question asked by the Member of the House. Mr Tibbetts said, "The issue of retrofitting of existing structures is one that presents a somewhat unique challenge, in that there is not a legislative tool readily available that would allow us to mandate the installation of hurricane shutters and storm windows in existing structures." He pointed out that the Building Code can be amended to cater for future buildings but not ones that already exist. This fact, however, he said, did not mean government could not do anything about existing structures. "I believe that government is in the position to take a proactive approach to this issue, by coordinating a country-wide programme to educate the public about the importance of reviewing their home and business protection plans," Mr Tibbetts said. Additionally, the Leader of Government Business said his administration will look into the feasibility of duty concessions for the importation of hurricane shutters, impact-resistant windows, and material used to manufacture them locally.