Guyana promises to rush aid to hurricane-devastated St Vincent and the Grenadines

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 July 2024, 8:27 by Writer

Union Island Airport Terminal Building

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said he has received a commitment from Guyana’s President, Irfaan Ali to rush a quantity of building materials to Union Island, one of the Grenadines, where Hurricane Beryl smashed more more than 90 percent of the houses.

“In one case, the President of Guyana has indicated that he would send some supplies which are necessary immediately for doing some construction especially in relation to housing,” Dr Gonsalves told the nation in a late night update.

President Ali, who is the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairman, on Monday said “we are mobilising for our first support mission, prioritising Grenada” for Tuesday morning. He said he was closely coordinating with all affected countries in our region. “We have activated a full emergency response team from Guyana to support all efforts.” He urged the regional private sector and other agencies to be fully mobilised to provide support at this time.

The Vincentian leader said preliminary information was that one person was killed by the “dangerous, devastating” category four tropical storm. He said, for instance, the Union Island Airport’s roof “is gone”. “Union Island has been devastated. The reports that I’ve received indicate that 90 percent of the houses have been severely damaged or destroyed.” In terms of the scale of devastation, he said Mayreau and Canouan “would not be far behind” in contrast to Bequia and other northern Grenadines.

In mainland St Vincent, the Prime Minister said many houses, schools and other government buildings, churches and church-owned schools have been “severely damaged or destroyed”.

Even as the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) was Tuesday preparing to conduct a damage assessment of buildings and river and sea defences, he appealed to residents and businesses in St Vincent and the Grenadines to participate in the reconstruction phase of the island. “We are at a point where we have to work together to rebuild and we have to start urgently.

Union Island is 7.8 square kilometres and has a population of about 3,000; the less than half square mile island of Mayreau is inhabited by about 300 persons. Canoaun, a 7.60 square kilometre island is home to about 1,700 persons and the 18 square kilometre Bequia has a population of over 5,000 persons.