Level two disaster declared in SVG
December 27, 2013
Level two disaster declared in SVG

St Vincent and the Grenadines has been declared a level two disaster area in the wake of a trough which swept through the Eastern Caribbean last Tuesday.{{more}}

Prime Minister (Ag) Girlyn Miguel, on Thursday during a radio message made the declaration.

The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) told SEARCHLIGHT “a level two disaster is one in which the damage is extreme and local resources are being used to manage the situation. However regional and international assistance will be required.”

She also declared the Vermont valley all the way down to Buccament Bay, Spring Village, Rose Bank and Dark View on the Leeward side and South Rivers, O’Brien’s Valley and Spring Village of Georgetown on the north eastern coast as disaster areas within the State.

Speaking a day after touring the country to get a firsthand look at the damage, Miguel said that based on her assessment of the damage, the situation was “quite remarkable.”

Miguel explained that she had got as far as Belle Isle on the Western side of the island and was only able to get as far as Rabacca on the east coast, as she was advised not to go any further.

“What we saw on tour was quite mind boggling and mandated that we declare a level two disaster for the state of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” she said.

The acting prime minister reported that several houses, shops and other buildings were swept away in different parts of the country as a result of the rivers overflowing their banks.

“Many houses were flooded out, the situation was so bad that some people had to be rescued from their homes,” she said.

Miguel also confirmed that eight people had been confirmed dead and five confirmed missing.

Walson Nanton, 73; Herna Nanton, 70; Hazell Baptiste, 48, Bernard Nanton, 24 and Bartholomew Yannick Nanton, 18 all perished after their house collapsed due to a landslide at Rose Bank.

She further stated that Raymond Gonsalves, 62 of Manning Village in Byera also perished after a landslide occurred damaging a section of the house that he was occupying at the time.

And the bodies of Kelisia James, 18 of Pembroke and Desmond Wilson, 34 of Vermont were recovered after they were swept down by the Vermont river.

The acting prime minister also said that 63 people are currently being put up in shelters – 59 at the Buccament Bay Secondary School, two at the Rose Bank Community Centre and two at the Chateaubelair Government School.

“Many cars, vans and other vehicles were swept away, some all the way to the sea with others being found far from where they were parked,” she said.

There were some reports of injuries, with 15 being reported and according to Miguel, up to Thursday six were still being treated at the Chateaubelair hospital.

Damage to homes was also reported.

Miguel said that 15 homes were reported damaged and nine destroyed; she however said that she expected this number to increase as more reports came in.

Damage to the road network was also a feature in the aftermath of the weather system.

“Road infrastructure has also taken a beating; we have lost many bridges in different parts of the country,” Miguel said.

She also noted that the extent of road from Orange Hill to Rabacca was deemed unsafe and was temporarily closed to vehicular traffic.

In relation to the two utilities, Miguel said that the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) has reported that there was damage to three of water distribution systems and that it may be a few days still before the system is fully restored.

Similarly, the St Vincent Electricity Services Ltd (VINLEC) has reported some damage to its generation and distribution network.

According to Miguel, it was noted that the Cumberland hydroelectric plant had sustained some damage and that it may take months for the repairs to be completed, she said.

But a more detailed assessment was expected to be conducted between yesterday (Thursday) and today to determine the full extent of the damage, Miguel said.

She said the National Emergency Operations Centre and the Health Emergency Committee had been activated and that a meeting was expected to be convened with the heads of the various committees to further assess the damage.

She however commended all who worked to try to bring immediate relief in the aftermath of the passage of the system and encouraged the general public to be of assistance to each other.

“The rain has passed but now we must pick the pieces and repair our country – this is a job that calls for all hands on deck, please go out and render assistance to those who need help,” she said. (DD)