Disaster Recovery Planning for Guana Cay


Successful planning for recovery participation by Guana Cay community leaders, local officials, organizations, and individuals who are able and ready to take responsibility for shaping the future of the Guana Cay community. Additionally, government and community leaders who are involved in disaster recovery  should have the ability to encourage participation from all segments of the community.

  • Guana Cay Officials/Leadership We meet three times a week.
    • Bahamian: Jimmy Albury
    • Bahamian: Troy Albury
    • Bahamian: Jamie Bethal
    • Bahamian Johnny Roberts
    • Bahamian Mikie Roberts
  • Emergency Management and Public Safety (Police/Fire/Emergency Medical Services): Troy Albury
  • Community Planning: Leadership Team, Community as a whole, NGO’s and Ochid Bay, Baker’s Bay and Dolphone Beach Resort Stakeholders
  •  Building Inspection; TBD currently we are aided by qualified home owners and Idea Relief
  • Finance and Administration: Kirsten Stevens has been hired in the USA to establish and manage the accounting of the Great Guana Cay Foundation.
  • School/Donations Management: Donna Sands
  • Community Development: Entire community through meetings as a group. We meet once a week.
  • Economic Development Leadership Team
  • Environmental Protection Bakers Bay services has been providing and will continue.
  • Historic Preservation Team: Bethany Puopolo and Sanford Steinberg Architects





Great Guana Cay is an islet in the center of the Abaco Islands of The Bahamas. Great Guana Cay is 7 miles long.  It is 8 miles from the Abaco Islands largest habour, Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island.  The population is estimated at 150 residents, but this number is likely higher due to a large immigrant workforce.  Great Guana Cay’s greatest resource is its tourism industry.

On September 1st 2019, Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands and is recorded as the worst natural disaster in the history of The Bahamas.  When it passed over Great Guana Cay, it was a Category 5 tropical cyclone, with maximum sustained winds at 220 mph and central pressure at 910 millibars (26.87 inHg) – the highest ever recorded at landfall.  However, intense and prolonged storm conditions in the surrounding days, exacerbated by the cyclone’s stall over the Abaco Islands, led to catastrophic damage and a high death toll.  The number of fatalities is 65, with hundreds of people still missing.  Damage is currently estimated at $7 billion, the largest in the nation’s history.  While Hurricane Dorian reportedly destroyed 20% of the Bahamas tourism industry, it has destroyed 100% of Great Guana Cay’s economy, including workplaces, community center, church, neighborhoods, tourism and vacation homes.  Infrastructure damage includes telecommunications, power, clean water and key support services, as well as geographic devastation to land, shorefront, soil contamination, toxic waste, and aftermath issues such as looting and organized theft.  Thus, Great Guana Cay is facing an extended period of disaster recovery with few opportunities for the immediate restoration of economic growth, and protection of that economy in the future.  Marsh Harbour (the mainland) was Great Guana Cay’s support for day to day living needs including grocery, power, banking, transportation including airlines and shipping, medical, building and repair supplies.


The Great Guana Cay community consists of Bahamian residents, vacation home owners, visitors, support workers and volunteers from all over the world (predominantly the USA and Europe) who are committed to long-term recovery of their homes, workplaces, tourism and community life.  The purpose of this document is to orient the community and others to the process of recovery for the island of Great Guana Cay and its people.  The community has established a foundation with Leadership that has developed the Great Guana Cay Long-Term Recovery Plan (Leadership).



The Leadership aims to establish a whole-of-community response, that is sustainable, achievable, and committed to the long-term recovery and growth of the Great Guana Cay community.  The Leadership will partner and coordinate recovery strategies with community groups, charities, volunteers, philanthropic, government and non-government (NGO) agencies and the private sector to ensure efficient, sustainable, cost-effective and safe redevelopment of Great Guana Cay for its residents and its economy.

It is critical that the Leadership addresses future challenges, to ensure more resilient responses to rising sea levels, extreme heat, fire, and more frequent storms, for the protection and preservation of the community.

The Leadership encompasses more than a plan to restore the community’s physical infrastructure.  It intends to provide a framework for a continuum of services and resources to meet the needs of everyone in the community who has experienced death, loss, financial, emotional and / or physical impacts, and to position the community for the future.



The Leadership is committed to restoring residential and community life, the economy, industry and infrastructure, following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.  The Leadership has a whole-of-community focus, to ensure that all stakeholders are helped equally, without discrimination, to protect and support the Greater Guana Cay redevelopment process.

Initially, this involves the safety and protection of emergency workers, volunteers and residents, restoring basic services (power, water, shelter, food, medical care, debris management) and developing a long-term recovery plan that benefits, is sustainable, mitigates redundancies and ensures the most efficient use of resources.

Next, the Leadership prioritizes the engagement and support of vulnerable residents of Great Guana Cay.

The Leadership envisions a vibrant, collaborative and empowered community dedicated to restoring a thriving Great Guana Cay society, with a culture of hope, courage and resilience.

The Leadership is dedicated to long term sustainability, which includes long term viability of the economy, its natural resources and ecosystems and consideration and potential mitigation of the risks.  Risks are posed by climate change, Great Guana Cay’s geography and transient population.

The Leadership will improve Great Guana Cay’s ability to withstand and recover effectively from future disasters.

The Leadership welcomes recommendations that are innovative, centered around resilient rebuilding, with consideration of current and future risks.





The Leadership has identified the following objectives for the first year:


  1. Completion of emergency and first relief efforts;
  2. Systematic reduction of the presence of emergency and relief organizations, and with an increase in local representation for situational awareness and to expedite restoration efforts;
  3. Development of a strategic plan to be overseen by a Leadership and board of directors
    • to ensure a coordinated approach to infrastructure investments
    • to understand the scope of the hurricane’s impact and what is needed at the highest levels for coordinated and collaborative recovery;
  4. Assist residents and families to find safe and affordable housing, find work for the local workforce and protect homeowners;
  5. Supporting local businesses and re-establish the economy;
  6. Development of partnership with government, charities and NGOs to assist with recovery, redevelopment and the establishment of programs to mitigate risks;
  7. Adaptability towards changing conditions and flexibility to withstand and recover from disruptions to progress and unplanned challenges.


Recovery Phase 1 – Next 90 Days (December 19- February 20)

Government Docks Complete – first step in facilitating transient economic dollars

Debris Removal of all public areas, settlement/local Bahamian homes – utilize local labor

Settlement housing rebuild program underway

Strategize with key Island stakeholders on individual recovery plans (Bakers Bay/Orchid Bay, Dolphin Beach Resort, Grabbers, Nippers, Dive Guana and local businesses) – find common priorities to bring major aspects of the island recovery together. The first in a series of  meetings have been set for December 6th & 7th.

Define housing program for merged priority list of key stake holders (type and location for permanent as well as volunteer)

Construct volunteer housing solution

Work with key island stakeholders to define interim and long-term electricity primary and back-up plan (i.e how can island generate economic dollars on individual power generator supply if centralized system not possible)

Prioritize road rebuild program and funding source

Define landscaping and funding sourcing of front street landscaping

Define 2nd home owner vacation rental pool and viability

Establish Recycling Program



Recovery Phase 2 – Next 91-180 Days (March 20-May 20)

Second homeowner debris removal if not accomplished

Settlement housing rebuild program underway


Recovery Phase 3 – Next 181-270 Days (June 20-Aug 20)

Settlement housing rebuild program continues

Matching current island resources of all key stakeholders with tourism activities to maximize economic activity


Recovery Phase 4 – Next 271-360 Days (Sept 20 – Nov 20)

Settlement housing rebuild program complete


Recovery Phase 5 – Post 1 Year

Straw Market

Sea wall


Government Bathroom and post office

Land for Firehouse & medical Clinic

Roads Rebuild

Street Lighting






The Leadership recognizes the following stakeholders, which may at times, have opposing goals.  The Leadership understands that advocacy must include all stakeholders in the achievement of its mission.


  • Residents – full-time residents of Great Guana Cay who are now homeless and unemployed, previously low income
  • Residents – part time residents who may work or live on other islands. This includes documented and undocumented workers, vacation home owners, tourism operators, business owners.
  • Property owners
  • Business owners
  • Tourism workers
  • Government agencies
  • Donors
  • Volunteers & voluntary organizations
  • Employees
  • Emergency and community workers
  • The Bahamian government
  • Suppliers to trade
  • Leadership board members
  • Emergency responders
  • Community developers



Leadership TASKFORCE


A taskforce, consisting of a board of directors was elected by community members who have identified themselves from the early days of first responders as long-term stakeholders.  The directors will serve an initial term of one year:


Tami Siewruk – President

Jimmy Albury- Vice President

Jamie Bethel– Treasurer

Johnny Roberts– Secretary – responsible for correspondence and monitoring appropriate governance practices

Mikie Roberts- Transportation

Troy Albury- Fire and Rescue

Michelle Ruiz– Community services, humanitarian, volunteer services



The Leadership taskforce will identify guiding principles, develop policies and ensure transparency in all of its decision-making processes.  The board is committed to promoting inclusive and equitable planning, coordination and sharing of information.





This framework serves to:


  • To coordinate a whole-of-community response;
  • Identify resources and develop capacities for effectively managing recovery through a collaborative and inclusive planning process;
  • Integrate mitigation, resilience and sustainability in short- and long-term goals;
  • Improve the community’s ability to accelerate the recovery process, with its efforts in pre-disaster preparedness, for the future.


Core Capabilities:


  • Individual and family encouragement and empowerment
  • Leadership and local authority
  • Engaged partnerships and inclusiveness
  • Unity in effort
  • Timeliness and flexibility
  • Resilience and sustainability
  • Trauma and emotional recovery





The recovery process is a continuum in that all decisions made by the Leadership board will have a cascading effect on the speed and effectiveness of recovery.  In the short term, intense services and efforts will be required, for a shorter period of time.  This stage has now evolved into mid-term recovery, requiring heightened and prolonged efforts for months, with long-term recovery embracing years.  This continuum ensures that the long-term negative impacts are not prolonged or produce more extensive long-term losses.  By example, the Leadership is designed to ensure that potential employers do not decide to relocate instead of rebuilding, second homers are encouraged to rebuild and marina’s get repaired and so on.




Such plans pose inherent risks that can directly impact the community and/or limit the board’s capabilities to deliver on its mission.  The entire community must maintain support of the plan to ensure the mission’s objectives are delivered.


Risks are to be regularly assessed and reviewed, to ensure preparedness for mitigation and response.  A risk appetite and risk management system will be developed.  Assessments of risk include potential impacts on scope and severity on life, property, the natural ecosystem, essential services, infrastructures and economic systems.


Risk transfer, such as to insurance, is to be continually explored.


All recovery stakeholders must have a clear understanding of responsibilities because it will provide a foundation for unity of effort.  An understanding of all stakeholders’ needs is required and is to include vulnerable people.







  • First Responders and emergency organizations
  • Idea Relief, Bakers Bay and all first community responders, worked together for life preservation, safety, medical support, food, shelter and evacuation.




  • Work with community members and first responders, to establish a site for the Great Guana Cay Command Center for local support. The Command Center provides three meals a day, provides communications, medical support and maintains the inventory donated supplies and resources.
  • Leadership representatives assist the ongoing outreach to NGO’s in Marsh Harbour (Great Abaco) by attending weekly meetings and communicating requests for resources and supplies.




During the Emergency and Relief phases, charitable and organizational support, volunteers, and resources became available.  After tow months, these supports became scarcer and funding slowed. Residents and community needs that were not met in the emergency and relief phases were identified for support during the recovery period.


Leadership representative met with first responders to coordinate and distribute information to those remaining for the long term.


Short-term recovery, defined as two months post-hurricane (through November 1st), has focused on debris removal to search for survivors, improve safety, and to mobility.  Debris is mostly removed / relocated predominantly by hand, which remains slow and hazardous.


A fresh water source has been established, along with the opening of local businesses:

  • Temporary grocery store
  • Guana Lumber & Hardware
  • Mama’s restaurant (lunch only)
  • Laundry Service
  • Temporary boat service to Marsh and Scotland Cay
  • Clyde’s bar and grill serving lunch and dinner


The Command Center:

  • continues to provide three meals a day
  • provides locals with community information and updates
  • The Leadership Taskforce holds daily work meetings as needed and weekly report meetings to the community (8:00 am every Saturday) and coordinates daily activities via voice communications (radio).
  • The Leadership Taskforce has begun to coordinate resources and has established


Barriers to recovery:


The Leadership Taskforce has begun to coordinate some of these resources using a case management model for individual and community needs.  Here are the current barriers:


  • Insufficient funding for building materials, housing repairs, land clearance, waste disposal


  • Lack of partnerships and coordination from charities, NFPs, NGOs, faith-based organizations, food providers (fresh and shelf-stable meals)


  • Power supplies: generators and power supplies have been donated, but more equipment is needed.


  • Funding from foundations, charities, private sector and other sources is needed for supplies: building materials, consumables, home repair, re-usable equipment.


  • Lack of sources for equipment such as generators, electrical tools, construction equipment, food, clothing and household supplies.


  • There is no grant program in place. One grant has been submitted (Hope Town Council for the rebuild of the fig tree.  However, large scale funding applications are required.




To ensure efficiencies are created, to assist long-term recovery, and ensure the long-term recovery barriers are not prolonged or worsened, the following activities have begun for risk mitigation:


  • Communication and recovery awareness through the community website: https://greatguanacayabacos.com/
  • Weekly community meetings with status reports – held at the Command Center at 8am each Saturday morning and on Facebook and other social media sites. The content of this needs to be managed to mitigate risk of incorrect information.
  • Relocation or elevation of homes and businesses away from high-risk The Taskforce is working with Idea Relief (idearelief.org) and insurance management structural engineers to assess the locations and status of community buildings and the homes of local Bahamian residents.  They are also available to provide estimates for second home owners.
  • Promotion sound building design and construction In partnership with the Hope Town Council, the Leadership Taskforce is establishing protocols for the rebuilding homes, community structures and commercial spaces to ensure preparedness for future events.
  • Discussions and planning with the community for the development and adoption of a flood plan and the consideration of a ‘no-build area’ along the bay side of Front street due to the high risk and susceptibility of this location. Long term will be the seawall and breakwater.
  • Development and establishment of a fire rescue plan, volunteer fire service and reconstruction of the Guana Fire and Rescue facility. This includes replacing the fire truck destroyed in the hurricane.
  • Establishment of essential medical services. A temporary medical center was established in the school house.  It is attended twice a week under the direction of a NGO.  Supplies are needed such as a safe medical containerized system for medical waste.  A donation from Bakers Bay is expected to fund this.  It is anticipated that the container will be located at the Dolphin Beach Resort tennis court (pending negotiations with the property owner, Mr Geoffery Jones).
  • Via NEMA, the Taskforce is seeking a full-time medical work permit for local resident Jeff True. It is anticipated that this will provide a long-term solution.
  • Debris clean-up has been arranged in two phases:
    • Heavy equipment for moving waste and debris
    • Permanent disposal of waste and debris

The safe and rapid removal of waste and debris is essential to mitigate recovery risks.  There are health, fire and safety risks, as well as long-term deterrent factors for recovery.  In partnership with ONE Bahamas Foundation, Bakers Bay, Clint Beity, Orchid Bay, an economically viable and green solution has been sought.  Great Guana Cay Foundation has determined that an Air Curtain Burner System would meet this goal.  The Aircurtain system is a widely used system because it is reduces wood and other waste products, without going to landfill.  It is anticipated that the Firebox 220 – a serlf-contained, fully assembled, above-ground air curtain incinerator has a refractory-lined containerized burn system that is both portable for shipment to  Great Guana Cay and is a permanent / stationary system.  It is designed for the high-temperature burning of forest slash, agricultural green waste, land clearing debris, storm debris, and other waste streams in compliance with the requirements of US EPA 40CFR60.  This asset, once acquired, would be owned by the Great Guana Cay Foundation and used by residents to dispose of debris. After that process is complete, it will serve as a long-term solution to managing our landscape and wood-based waste products.  The model we have targeted for Great Guana Cay is the Firebox 220 – a self-contained, wholly assembled above ground Air Curtain Burner (air curtain incinerator or FireBox) with a refractory lined burn-container for portable and permanent (stationary) applications.


  • In addition, Discovery Land Foundation and Bakers Bay and have been asked to provide four containers each week to assist in the removal of non-burnable items from the cay. In addition, we have requested the support includes the costs of shipment of the equipment to the cay.
  • Other activities:
  • Government docks completed by Trust Bridge
  • Government bathroom and post office
  • Street lighting
  • Front Street building design plan
  • Road rebuild and repair
  • Straw market
  • Land for Firehouse & medical center
  • Debris clean up
  • Rebuild a house program
  • Front Street landscaping
  • Sea wall
  • Bulkhead


The Leadership Taskforce has identified the following potential partnerships.  The partnership arrangements are under negotiation:


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