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CUOMO ANNOUNCES HUD WILL HELP CARIBBEAN NATIONS PROTECT BUILDINGS FROM NATURAL DISASTERS
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will help Caribbean nations better protect housing, other buildings and infrastructure against natural disasters, Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced today.
Cuomo made the announcement as a two-day conference sponsored by HUD and the U.S. Agency for International Development came to a close in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
"Unfortunately, we can't stop hurricanes and other disasters from striking, but we can help our neighbors reduce the terrible toll of death and destruction caused by these tragic events," Cuomo said. "We will share American knowledge of building design, construction techniques and building codes with Caribbean nations to save lives and help preserve communities."
The conference in the Dominican Republic brought together organizations representing: the Dominican construction and housing industries; non-governmental organizations; lenders; and representatives from the National Institute for Housing, the Dominican public housing agency.
Topics discussed at the conference included: evaluating structural damages in different housing designs; developing designs to resist natural disasters; making squatter housing safer; basic building code requirements; and acceptable risk policies.
Approximately 600,000 people in the Dominican Republic were affected by the damage caused by Hurricane Georges last September. Estimated damages in the Caribbean caused by the storm to homes, road and bridges, schools, airports and utilities total $1.7 billion.
President Clinton sent Cuomo to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, and the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico last year to report on actions the U.S. could take to help assist in rebuilding efforts after Hurricanes Mitch and Georges hit. HUD is bringing private sector and federal assistance to the area to build and repair thousands of homes, and has sent teams of experts to speed recovery.
The Clinton Administration's budget request of $667 million in supplemental emergency relief funding is pending before Congress.
HUD's increased international efforts under Cuomo mark a resumption of international activities by the Department carried out in the 1960's and 1970's.
The conference was another step taken by HUD in the aftermath of Hurricane Georges and Mitch to provide disaster relief through technical assistance and facilitating trade and investment between U.S. businesses and their overseas counterparts.
HUD hosted a business roundtable recently in Washington to explore opportunities for investment in housing construction in the Caribbean and Central America to further reconstruction efforts in areas devastated by the hurricanes.
Over 45 businesses participated in the roundtable, along with representatives from: USAID; the U.S. Department of Commerce; Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Organization of American States; the Embassies of Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic; and Honduran and Nicaraguan trade organizations.
A follow-up conference to link U.S. non-profit organizations with non-governmental organizations in Central America and the Caribbean is scheduled in June.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009