Govt sends first set of relief to Hurricane affected islands
DPI, Guyana, Monday, September 18, 2017.
The first set of relief by Government to hurricane-affected islands Antigua, St Maarten, and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) arrived in Antigua via aircraft on Sunday, September 17, 2017. Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix who joined the Needs Assessment team in Antigua on Sunday has expressed Government’s commitment to continued support. Following his arrival, the Minister visited Tortola BVI where he met with some of the Guyanese Nationals affected. It is estimated that some 1,500 Guyanese reside on the island.
Preparedness and Response Manager of the Civil Defense Commission Major Sean Welcome noted that the initial delivery was possible through a donation made by Gaico Construction Ltd. Among the items received are rice, medical supplies, and water. The supplies are to be distributed in Antigua and Barbuda. Additionally, containers are being shipped to Antigua with further provisions, including building materials – this will be distributed further afield to BVI and St. Maarten. The Antiguan Government has assured that the items will be delivered to its desired location. There has also been a special call from BVI for logs to be donated from Guyana to the Island for use as electricity poles. The request was made to Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque. In this regard, Minister Felix has assured that this request will be seen as a priority, and will be discussed with Government. With BVI and St. Maarten bracing for Hurricane Maria, the regional and international community continues its support to islands affected by Hurricane Irma, and Guyana also remains committed in this regard.
Situation in BVI
The Guyana Needs Assessment team visited the British Virgin Islands (BVI) on Sunday to assess the situation. The wrath of Hurricane Irma has left the islands without electricity. Similar to St Maarten, the category-five hurricane has damaged the island severely, leaving families with limited cellular data and internet service. While the island is receiving support from the international community, many Guyanese nationals there are still in need of tarpaulins, insect repellent, and water purification pills. In the meantime, commercial flights were scheduled to resume today but will most likely be postponed because of impending Hurricane Maria. There are reports of Guyanese casualties, and one family has already met with Minister Felix. In the face of the devastation left by Hurricane Irma, the Guyanese community is steadfastly unified, especially as they prepare for Hurricane Maria; however, their main concern is the schooling of their children. DPI also understands that there are 11 shelters in operation across Tortola. The island is said to have been pummelled for six hours by Hurricane Irma, and again, similar to Guyanese nationals in St Maarten, those residing in BVI are looking to rebuild. On the positive note, supermarkets and shops have reopened its doors.
In an effort to assist Guyanese nationals there, Minister Felix has committed to ensuring that all damaged Guyanese documents be replaced, and to facilitate registering Guyanese children who are currently not registered.
Meanwhile, the Civil Defense Commission earlier this afternoon held a meeting to discuss their plan of action following the review of the Needs Assessment team. Discussions are expected to be ongoing as Government is committed to bringing relief to nationals affected by the hurricane on the islands.