The alert level has now been changed to orange. As with most Vincentians, the SVG Christian Council is aware that this does not mean we are out of harm’s way, but that the danger is not as imminent. As such, if the need arises for evacuation, it is anticipated that there will be adequate time to ensure the safety of citizens. This new level also means that persons in zones other than the red zone are able to return to their homes – with some exceptions, based on the continued need for the cleaning up of villages (including Chateaubelair and Fitz Hughes though they are in the orange zone).
This new development creates other challenges and anxieties. We are mindful that for several different reasons, persons are concerned about their return home. These include issues regarding cleaning, income, livelihoods, replacement of furniture and appliances, along with other critical matters such as schooling and education. We are also mindful that some are concerned about access to supplies and resources, considering much of the focus is on the support to shelters. We continue to encourage all to remember that our faith will see us through – a significant statement of national importance that reminds us of the presence and work of God at every stage of our recovery. This statement of faith is also to encourage patience, realising that the challenges and the rebuilding will take time to be adequately addressed. We encourage patience and understanding, because there will be shortcomings and failures by those leading and enabling the process – no system is perfect. We encourage all citizens to be deliberate in continuing to look out for one another and resist the temptations of selfishness and greed. We commend the efforts and sacrifices by many who have been giving of their best to alleviate the suffering and disruptions others experience. We encourage high levels of responsibility, service and accountability guided by the attitude recommended by the apostle Paul – whatsoever you do, do heartily as unto the Lord and not unto man (Col 3.23). We are hopeful that the process of the reoccupation of [the] evacuated zone will be well organised, systematic, co-ordinated and as much as is reasonable, limits the several gaps that can occur that leave some to ‘fall by the wayside’.
The evacuation, and particularly occupation of shelters, have provided invaluable opportunities for several discoveries or to magnify many concerns regarding the well-being of fellow citizens as well as to expose some vulnerabilities. Parenting, family and economic issues have been among those concerns we have noted. We therefore anticipate that as the reoccupation takes place the relevant ministries and authorities along with other civil society organisations will be deliberate towards the continued task of navigating and addressing these and other concerns.
We trust that in this phase of relocation and rebuilding, we will remember the levels of solidarity, camaraderie, support and care that were demonstrated in response to the disaster, making it undeniably clear that as a people we can work together, we can do better, we can prioritise the building of our nation and the valuing of each other’s life and needs. We have a country to build, let us build together, caring for one another, valuing conversation, co-operation, collaboration, compromise, reconciliation, integrity, transparency and of utmost importance our faith in God.