The remaining Barbudans staying at the Barrymore Hotel in Antigua insisting they cannot return to Barbuda because of health reasons will be assessed by the Ministry of Health.
Director of the National Office of Disaster Services, Philmore Mullin told OBSERVER media yesterday there are about three or four families still living at the post-Hurricane Irma shelter more than a year after the Category 5 plus storm demolished Barbuda and forced its evacuation of over 1,600 residents.
He explained that while most of the Barbudans have since returned home to aid in the rebuilding efforts, there are families still at the Fort Road property insisting that they cannot go home because the current health system in Barbuda cannot cater to their ailments.
“A number of persons have indicated that the reason they have not gone back is medical and the medical care on the island is not sufficient enough based on their ailment. I have to be guided by the Ministry of Health where that is concerned because if the Ministry is satisfied with the health care that is required is available on Barbuda then we will have no choice then to ask them to leave,” Mullin said.
He was quick to add that there are more than a dozen homes that have been repaired on the sister-Isle, but, the occupants have not returned.
“I think there are about 16 houses that are livable in Barbuda and they have members of those families living in Barbuda, but, in some cases the houses are closed up and these people are just at the Barrymore and now that we have identified them we are going to ask them to relocate,” he stated.
No timeline has been given on when the health assessment will be done and when another eviction notice will be issued, however, Mullin said a meeting will be held with the remaining residents shortly to inform them of the latest development.
In late August, Barbudans staying at another shelter in Antigua, the National Technical Training Centre, were asked to leave after failing to adhere to two earlier eviction notices. But again, only a few people obeyed. (Tameika Malone)