Strong CARICOM support for hurricane ravaged Dominica

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CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque (centre in light clothing) poses with regional hurricane relief workers
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Barbados coast guard vessel arrives in Dominica
The Governments and people of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States continue to actively support their sister country Dominica following Monday night’s devastating passage of Category 5 Hurricane Maria.

“We’ve lost all that money can buy”, Prime Minister Roosevelt had disclosed after surveying the widespread damage to houses and infrastructure.  A number of deaths have also been reported.

The government of close neighbour Antigua and Barbuda, while still itself in recovery mode from another Category Five Hurricane, Irma’s destructive passage over Barbuda, made an immediate pledge of US$300,000, to which Tourism Minister Asot Michael added a further US$100,000.  Antigua-Barbuda’s state and private broadcast media, in particular ABS Radio and TV have been providing a critical connection between Dominica’s residents and the rest of the world, especially  during the period when all broadcast and internet services were down. ABS TV  provided the first broadcast by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to the world after his initial aerial tour of the devastation.

  VIDEO: Prime Minister Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago

Barbados was also quick out the blocks, putting two coast guard vessels at Dominica’s disposal to help transport technical personnel and supplies. The vessels left Bridgetown loaded with water and other emergency supplies donated by Barbadians in heavily supported collection drives.  Barbados has also arranged to provide much needed doctors and nurses to assist with critical medical services.

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Emergency supplies arrive via coast guard vessel
With rural communities cut off by damaged or blocked roadways, Trinidad and Tobago’s helicopter service proved critical for transporting emergency personnel and assessment teams to the remote villages for damage assessment, to extract the injured and stranded, and to deliver  emergency supplies. Trinidad and Tobago had previously  provided its helicopter  to the Antigua and Barbuda government to assist with emergency services between Antigua and sister-island Barbuda which lost more than 90 percent of its houses to Hurricane Irma and which, as a result, had to be totally evacuated. The Trinidad and Tobago government also announced that it will waive the immigration requirements for residents of Dominica for a period of six months as the CARICOM Member State rebuilds.

The Dominica Government welcomed contingents of police officers from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Jamaica among others to assist with security during this recovery period. Grenada announced that a detachment from its Special Services Unit has joined an earlier team of communication and logistics officers supporting the CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit (CDRU).  Jamaica made available 120 members of its Defence Force Disaster Response Team to help with maintaining public order, engineering, relief distribution and damage assessment.  Saint Lucia’s police contingent was joined by fire and rescue officers as well as disaster assessment officials from the country’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).   (more…)

Hurricanes can turn back the development clock by years

A street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after Hurricane Mathew.  (UN Photo/Logan Abassi)
A street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after Hurricane Mathew.
(UN Photo/Logan Abassi)

The everyday names of Hurricanes like Irma belie their unprecedented fury and ability to claim not just human lives, homes, bridges and roads. The silent and barely visible victim of these extreme weather events is, increasingly, human and social development.

World Bank studies indicate that some 26 million people – the equivalent of the combined population of Chile and Bolivia – fall into poverty each year due to natural disasters.

No one can stop a hurricane or earthquake, but there are ways to minimize their impacts, as disaster risk management expert Joaquin Toro explains in the following interview.

Read more at: World Bank

CARICOM Delegation tours hurricane devastated islands – organising Donor Conference

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda leads the CARICOM delegation on a walk through Barbuda’s devastated capital, Codington

CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada and Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque on Wednesday completed a tour of hurricane devastated islands and have indicated that arrangements are being made  to convene an international  Donors Conference to mobilise the ‘significant resources’ required for the recovery effort.

The touring CARICOM Delegation included  Mr. Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), which is the CARICOM Institution coordinating the regional hurricane disaster response; and Captain  Errington Shurland, Executive Director of the Regional Security System (RSS).

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Members of the CARICOM Delegation (l-r) Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque; Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada; Executive Director, CDEMA, Ronald Jackson; Executive Director, RSS Captain Errington Shurland, getting an update from BVI Premier Dr. Orlando Smith (back to camera).

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Mr. Gaston Browne joined the Delegation for the tour of Barbuda where Government’s assessment shows more than 90 percent of the buildings on the island were destroyed. Prime Minister Browne confirmed that all Barbuda residents have been relocated to sister island Antigua, with just a contingent of military personnel remaining to provide security.

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On tour in Anguilla: Chief Minister Mr. Victor Banks (front-centre) updates CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell (left) and CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque (r)

“I’m very grateful for the visit by the CARICOM Chairman, Secretary-General and other members of the delegation.  It shows we have other Caribbean brothers and sisters who are standing in solidarity with us,” Prime Minister Browne said after taking the delegation on a walk-though Barbuda’s devastated capital, Codrington.

“Clearly, this is a very difficult time for Antigua and Barbuda and we are very appreciative of the support and, certainly, all of the pledges that will be made,” he added.

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Barbuda photos

Anguilla photos

BVI photos

In the British Virgin Island, where the delegation toured affected communities and met with Premier Dr Orlando Smith and Government and Disaster Management officials, the focus is on meeting critical immediate needs such as water and food supplies and restoring access to electricity and telecommunications, while simultaneously working on arrangements for getting students back into schools and getting critical sectors of the economy such as tourism and financial services back up to speed.  Premier Smith noted that the Government headquarters building is among the those destroyed and his office has  had to be re-located to the main hospital building.

Anguilla’s Chief Minister Mr. Victor Banks, who joined the CARICOM Delegation on the tour of his island where the main hospital, schools and 90 percent of the homes were damaged, said  he is also working to address the pressing need for food, water, building supplies and electricity and confronting any challenges to the critical tourism sector. (more…)