Irma-damaged Lion’s Den will be repaired at no cost

Mel Raboen de Sanchez Pacheco.

ST. EUSTATIUS–Mike E. van Putten Youth Centre, also known as the Lion’s Den, which was considerably damaged by hurricane Irma, will be repaired for free, said project manager Mel Raboen de Sanchez Pacheco of the Directorate of Kingdom Relations at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations.

  Raboen has been on St. Eustatius for several weeks monitoring the reconstruction. Under the watchful eye of Acting Island Governor Julian Woodley, he manages the post-hurricane rebuilding process, supported by a team of local experts.

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  The Lion’s Den is used for many activities, such as weddings, conferences, birthday parties, family reunions, workshops, wakes, elections and even court cases.

  “Therefore, I would like to inform that the necessary materials for repairs of the damage to the building will be granted for free,” Raboen said.

  In the meantime, a reconstruction team led by Disaster Coordinator Edris Bennett-Merkman and supervisor Wim de Jong, and several contractors have already met with a first group of homeowners who sustained damages to their properties as a result of the recent hurricanes.

  This was the group with the most urgent need, namely persons who do not have a roof above their heads. Therefore, this group will be helped immediately, he said.

  If there are persons who have suffered damage and have not yet registered at the Planning Bureau, they have the opportunity to still do so by getting in contact with Austin Van Heyningen at tel. 319-1445.

  The damage will first be assessed to determine if it was actually created as a result of hurricanes Irma and Maria. When the assessment is completed and if the request meets the requirements, the person in question will be placed on a list. The reconstruction team will put the person in contact with a contractor. However, should someone have a preference to work with a particular contractor, this should be indicated to the reconstruction team. They will try, as much as possible, to take personal wishes into account.

  “I have just one goal and that is to see to it that persons affected by the hurricanes can return to a more suitable home as soon as possible. You do not have to worry about the cost. The Dutch Central Government will cover the cost for building materials and will also pay the contractor for you,” Raboen said.

  He also mentioned that in some cases, damaged wooden or zinc roofs will be replaced by a concrete roof. This will be done in agreement with the homeowner, depending also on the condition of the carrying structure of the roof.

  As the reconstruction of Statia affects everyone, some social initiatives will be undertaken. Raboen has spoken with Director of New Challenges Foundation Francine Foe to explore the possibility for young people between the ages of 14 and 23, who have come into contact with the police and the justice system, to become involved within the framework of the “Second Chance” project.

  “It is important that these young people continue to be socially involved with developments on Statia. They deserve to learn from their mistakes and to feel accepted again, as this also helps them to have confidence in the future and to no longer follow the wrong path,” Raboen said.

  In addition to construction work, there are many other tasks that can be carried out by these youngsters.

  “Think for example of repainting, cleaning of rooms, assembling of beds or installing washing machines. This group of young people can assist in these areas. All hands are needed. I am personally very glad that Francine Foe and New Challenges Foundation want to commit to the reconstruction,” he said. “Let us do this together. The reconstruction of Statia comes from the heart.”

Source: The Daily Herald