November 11, 2005
Grenada back in action

One year ago, Hurricane Ivan wreaked havoc in Grenada. Twenty-eight persons were killed, 80 per cent of all houses were damaged, and the social and public infrastructure rendered useless.

It has been 13 long months since the passing of this catastrophic hurricane that devastated the most southerly member of the Windward Islands and one can safely say the wounds have begun to heal. {{more}}

But reflecting on the dilemma with which he was confronted, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell could not help but admit to several regional media practitioners in an interview at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday, October 31, that he was a “lost man”.

“I was a lost man for a couple of days. That’s the harsh reality of it,” Prime Minister Mitchell told the journalists who were brought to Grenada courtesy the Grenada Board of Tourism.

As with his fellow countrymen, the occasional ruthlessness of nature has tested his faith but with their backs pushed against the wall Prime Minister Mitchell and his people have been reinvigorated and very soon the world will be seeing the best of Grenada.

“We are making tremendous progress. We still have a long, long, long, way to go,” Dr. Mitchell stated.

At present, the country appears to be deep in its reconstruction effort. All around, there are signs that work is being done. This time, though, the Grenadians are taking no chances and the work is not done in any ad hoc manner. It is meticulously organised and the standards have gone one notch higher. For example, hotels that were three star are now four star and those which were four star have been elevated to five star. The buildings during this reconstruction and refurbishing phase are more beautifully designed and are more fortified to withstand any hurricane the likes of Ivan.

Dr. Mitchell said he was pleased to welcome the regional press to Grenada to inform “the brothers and sisters” of the Caribbean about his country’s progress. However, he used the opportunity to dispel claims that Grenada had recovered.

“I want to further indicate that we continue to seek and get their help in the process of further reconstruction of the country because there has been the perception that we have recovered already because the physical face has certainly changed dramatically in the last 10 months,” said Dr.Mitchell.

The Prime Minister said there are still thousands of homes that have not been reconstructed and this he claimed was as a result of lack of resources. He disclosed that the agricultural sector was facing a similar predicament.

“The nutmeg trees will literally take six to seven years to start to produce again. The cocoa about four years and these were our two main export crops. Bananas while we were recovering did reasonably well…an alternative to the cocoa and nutmeg production. Emily came and knocked down all the banana trees. So the farmers have suffered twice and the cash crops have also been destroyed,” Prime Minister Mitchell said as he noted the serious damage done to the Agriculture sector.

Prime Minister Mitchell noted that the schools were still in a bad shape. He used the opportunity to praise students who wrote the 2005 CXC examinations, stating that they have done no worse than before under the trying circumstances.

The Prime Minister said he is particularly pleased with the attitude of the Grenadian people. He expressed the view that there seems to be a lot more willingness in people to cooperate, to work and to share. This important factor, he acknowledged, had been missing for a while.