BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has reaffirmed his nation’s support for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia as they begin the process of recovery following the passage of Hurricane Tomas over the weekend.
The Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) said that Stuart had indicated his country would be a sub-regional focal point for the other two countries if necessary.
“Barbados and the CDEMA Coordinating Unit continue to be in contact with the impacted participating states and will continue to monitor the situation,” the agency said.
“The CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit (CDRU) is on standby and ready to provide response support should this become necessary.”
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves described the damage caused by the storm as “the worst we have seen in living memory.
“Fortunately we have had no loss of lives,” Dr. Gonsalves said, adding “the damage has been horrific”.
Gonsalves said that a number of people were still in various shelters across the island and that 350 houses had been destroyed and the banana industry had been “wiped out”.
In Barbados, residents are continuing to pick up the pieces and wait for the restoration of water, telephone and electricity services.
Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, has urged residents to be patient as the government and essential services continue efforts to return the island to some normalcy.
Speaking during a press briefing at the offices of the Disaster Emergency Management (DEM), Brathwaite stressed that government was working assiduously to assist the disadvantaged. However, he said the restoration of full service would take time and people would therefore have to be tolerant.
Up to 80 per cent of electricity service to the island was disrupted during Tomas, resulting in water supply in some areas also being cut off. Teams from the Barbados Water Authority and the Barbados Light and Power have been on the ground to restore service to those affected, while the Ministry of Public Works and the Barbados Defense Force have been working during the day to clear roads.
Brathwaite pointed out that there were challenges in some parishes with regard to the restoration of electricity but he was confident that “within the next couple of days that we should be back up to full capacity”.
“We want to encourage our citizens to be understanding. We will not be able to get to everyone immediately; there’s a process. I also want to encourage residents to go to the welfare department in their particular parish…so that we can assist,” he said.
As of press time, reports from the DEM indicate that 352 houses in Barbados sustained damage during the passage of Tomas.