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Repairs slowed by slate shortage

Hundreds of hurricane-damaged homes could wait months for repairs because of a slate shortage, one industry expert claimed yesterday.

Shawn Perott said that he estimated that “close to 500” roofs had been damaged by Hurricane Humberto.

Mr Perott said a lack of workers cutting slate meant that many island homeowners could be left waiting for their materials.

He said: “In reality, they're looking at between two and three months, I would estimate.

“The longer that roof stays open to the elements, the more damage it is going to incur. And I think this is the general concern of the public.”

Mr Perott, a quarry operator with 21 years' experience, said that he had been “inundated” with calls after the Category 3 storm on September 18.

He said that he was told by “multiple contractors” and members of the public that they were not able to get slate for needed roof repairs.

Mr Perott said he visited the Government Quarry at Bailey's Bay and discovered “the slate was exhausted”.

He said that the current slate shortage had been a situation in the making for about 18 months, and he had not worked in the field himself for about that time.

He explained: “It's because guys haven't been able to cut. The long, drawn-out process for rezoning land is the reason why we haven't been cutting. It shouldn't have taken this long.”

Mr Perott said that he had warned the Government of the potential problem if the island was hit by a storm.

He explained: “Government at any given time is supposed to have a supply of slate for the island for emergencies.”

Mr Perott added: “They got caught with their pants down, basically.”

He took issue with updates that had been provided on the situation by the Government. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said after Humberto that he was unaware of shortages in the island's supply of roofing slate.

Mr Perott said other politicians had made similar statements, while the Government had also pledged to relax red tape for planning permission for hurricane repairs.

He said: “In reality, what's going on up at the planning department, they're dragging their feet.

“That's why we're not working. It's three weeks past the storm. We should have been in the quarry the Saturday after that storm.”

Etta Pearman, of Beacon Hill Road, Sandys, said that her entire roof needed to be replaced due to damage caused by Humberto.

She said that she had been told after the storm that the island was low on local slate.

Ms Pearman added: “Because of the slate shortage I actually made the decision to go with a totally different product.”

Another West End resident who said his home sustained “extensive” damage said he had also been advised of the shortage.

The man, who lives on Rockywold Road and asked not to be named, said that his contractor had asked if he had a preference whether repairs were made with Bermuda slate or another product.

He said: “I said give me quote for both.”

Mr Perott said that he was aware of attempts to import a manufactured slate product to the island, but cautioned against its use.

He explained: “Those same contractors that are going to put that foreign slate on your roof, they will not put it on their own roof.”

Mr Perott noted the Government had issued a call for action, after part of the Bahamas chain was devastated by Hurricane Dorian early last month.

He asked: “How could we do that as an island for a sister nation, but we have our own Bermudian people suffering now and the Government turns its back on them?”

Questions sent to the Government about the slate supply were not responded to by press time yesterday.

Wind damage: Hurricane Humberto pried a hole through the roof of this residence on Wreck Road, Sandys (Photograph by Hal Masters)

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Published October 07, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated October 07, 2019 at 9:07 am)

Repairs slowed by slate shortage

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