Freeport, Bahamas– Following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) is working toward full recovery with sustainability and climate resiliency as primary considerations in restoration and rebuilding.

As soon as conditions allowed, the GBPA team began exploring avenues to rebuild using more sustainable methods. “While we have always dealt with exposure to hurricanes,” explained GBPA Vice President, Henry St. George, “Dorian clearly highlighted the impact of climate change and the realities that come along with it. Our plan is to rebuild the island’s infrastructure in a way that considers those climate change challenges.”

In November, the Company established a partnership with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a non-governmental organization and global consortium of engineering professionals whose mission is to build a better world through engineering projects that empower communities. 

“Our team worked alongside members of EWB on structural assessments for approximately three weeks following Hurricane Dorian,” said Nakira Wilchcombe, Director of Building and Development Services at the GBPA. “The partnership facilitated the sharing of professional experiences and input regarding damage assessments and discussion on opportunities for greater resilience in the construction industry.”

The EWB team was led by Kevin Hagen, a Civil Engineer with more than 40 years of experience in the field. “EWB partnered with GBPA to provide engineering advice to help them best decide how to move forward with recovery in a resilient manner,” he noted. “Effective engagement of local and regional engineering, architecture and construction resources is central to long-term improvement in the built environment on the island.” 

Wilchcombe also noted that Building and Development Services previously brought local industry practitioners together to discuss where improvements could be made to the building code to increase resiliency, particularly against water-related events.  Wilchcombe expressed that she was pleased to add EWB to the discussion.

Over a three week period, EWB shared their professional experiences, provided input regarding damage assessments, and discussed opportunities for greater resilience in the construction industry. “Resilience in construction is, of course, a direct benefit to the property owner in reducing risk of loss,” explained Hagen.  “Equally important, more resilient construction reduces the broad economic disruption that occurs with major disasters.

Contractors, engineers, and other design professionals were invited to a workshop to discuss damage assessments and provide input as it relates to the industry.

“The GBPA is very grateful for the assistance provided by Engineers Without Borders,” added St. George. “With their support, we were able to preempt bottlenecks in the rebuilding phase by adding resources and technical insight to our inspection team. We were able to draw on EWB’s considerable experience from other disaster responses, and could not have asked for a more willing and able team to assist us.”

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