Red Cross responds to St. Lucia floods

CASTRIES, St. Lucia: A total of US$44,194 has been allocated from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to immediately assist people affected by recent flooding in St. Lucia.

The funds will be used to replenish the distributed relief stocks of the St. Lucia Red Cross and provide continuing hygiene promotion and psycho-social support to flood-affected families. The IFRC said the operation is expected to be implemented over three months, with completion scheduled for January, 2011.

For the past two weeks, the nation has experienced heavy rainfall which has resulted in flash flooding in the Dennery Quarter, in the east of the island. About 500 households have been severely affected by the flooding.

“The initial reports from the Red Cross and the National Emergency Management Organization highlight that people are currently living in difficult conditions with the absence of piped water, lack of electricity within homes and the inability to prepare meals due to the loss of kitchen equipment and other utensils,” said an IFRC report on the flood situation. “The situation has been further exacerbated with the loss of recently purchased schoolbooks, uniforms, clothing for young children and other items.”

The IFRC warned that there could be more trouble to come.

“Heavy rainfall is still expected throughout the months of October and November, with the potential for the current situation to worsen,” the report added.

The IFRC said that in the coming weeks, the St. Lucia Red Cross will focus on distribution of relief items under the water and sanitation component; distribution of drinking water to schools; community-based health care and psycho-social support.

The government is also providing relief. Prime Minister Stephenson King has announced that the Cabinet has approved EC$500,000 (US$185,185) to assist Dennery residents and that government has entered talks with various international institutions in the hope of getting additional relief and support.

“We have already approached the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank and very soon we are hoping that some funds will be rolled out to assist with the physical relocation of affected residents and to conduct a number of mitigation measures as we continue to approach the Dennery devastation in a holistic manner to ensure that what happened recently does not reoccur,” said King.

The Prime Minister says government has also agreed on a number of initiatives to provide both immediate and mid-term assistance to the affected residents.

“In response to numerous commitments from private sector agencies to provide the affected residents with appliances, furniture and other household equipment we have agreed (that) all these supplies will be given duty free status,” King said. “Also, we have declared a period between now and December as a period during which time those affected residents who have families abroad who would like to send appliances, clothing and other relief supplies will be able to import these goods into the country absolutely duty free.”

King also expressed gratitude to residents, support agencies and the general public for the manner in which they pulled together in response to the Dennery crisis.


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