January 24, 2014

Estimated EC$330 million in flood damage from torrential rains

WThe preliminary estimate of the damage and loss in the aftermath of the torrential rains which affected the country in December last year amounts to EC$330 million, or over 17 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said this is the preliminary estimate arrived at by Government officials.

In his 2014 Budget address on Monday, Gonsalves said that experts from the World Bank have also provided a preliminary estimate of EC$291.4 million which represents just over 15 per cent of GDP.

However, according to the Prime Minister, the World Bank’s figure does not include any damage assessment of the forests, and the damage to the agricultural sector was underestimated by $5 million.

He said that the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) estimates for damage and loss to the agricultural sector amounted to EC$8.4 million and to forestry, $24 million.

“The Government’s estimate is slightly higher than that of the World Bank’s in a few areas,” Gonsalves said in his budget address.

But the Government is at one with the Bank on major areas including infrastructure, housing, health, electricity, water and sewerage.

“It is a monumental blow to our society and economy; damage and loss of between 15 – 17 per cent of GDP is huge and devastating,” the Prime Minister said.

Over 11,000 people, or about 10 per cent of the total population were directly affected in the areas declared “disaster areas” which stretched from the Vermont Valley to Richmond on the western side of the island and from South Rivers up to Fancy on the north and north eastern side.

By December 31, over 50,000 people or roughly 50 per cent of the population were still adversly affected as a result of the disruption of the water supply, Gonsalves said.

He gave a summary of the infrstuctural damage done, which included 14 bridges destroyed and another 14 severely damaged; several miles of secondary roads and feeder roads ravaged; the forests have been stripped – about 10 percent Gonsalves said and 662 houses have been damages of which 300 require relocation.

“The preliminary assessment of the damage tells a horrendous story,” he said.

The actual damage to the 662 houses is estimated at $24.6 million – the cost of the relocation of 300 of these houses, according to the Prime Minister, would amount to an estimated $45 million.

The clean up cost incurred by the Roads, Building and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) amounted to $5 million and the damage and loss to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital amounted to $5.5 million.

The damage and loss to both the CWSA and VINLEC amount to $12.0 million and $23 million respectively; the damage and loss to private sector businesses outside agriculture is $5 million.

Included in the Prime Minister’s presentation was the damage and loss to the physical infrstucture which he said amounted to $221.1 million and included roads, bridges, river defences and two police stations.

And based on the figures presented by Gonsalves, the estimated cost of damage and loss to household items amounted to $7 million with the estimated cost of providing relief/humanitarian support to affected families for six months being $2.4 million.(DD)