Monday, November 01, 2010

Clearer picture emerging of Tomas damage

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Monday November 1, 2010 – In the two days since Tomas passed St Vincent and the Grenadines as a Category 1 hurricane, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and disaster officials have been getting a better idea of how much devastation was caused; and the conclusion is that it’s a “national disaster”.

The Prime Minister has estimated so far that it will cost at least EC$9 million (US$3.3 million) just to repair the approximately 300 houses that were seriously damaged. The rehabilitation of the agriculture sector – which was severely affected as bananas, plantains and fruit trees vital to the country’s economy were destroyed – and repairs to schools and other public buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure, are also expected to add significant costs. 

And he says the country will need “quick emergency assistance to get ourselves back on our feet in the shortest possible time”.

Speaking on local radio, Dr Gonsalves said: “I am appealing for regional and international assistance. I will myself make the formal appeals to our friends, our developmental partners.”

“This is a big blow to us coming on two years of economic challenges arising from the global financial and economic meltdown,” he added.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to meet with members of his Cabinet this morning to discuss the situation.
No deaths confirmed, only injuries 

There have been no confirmed deaths in St Vincent.

There had been earlier reports that three people had died, two of whom were blown off a roof as they were repairing it during the passage of the storm. However, it has since been ascertained that the two men did not die, but were seriously injured and had to be hospitalised.

In addition to damaging homes and affecting the agricultural sector, Tomas, which had maximum sustained winds of about 75 miles per hour when it passed St Vincent, caused landslides and felled trees, blocking roads.
Many areas are still without electricity which was knocked out during the hurricane.
Although many areas all across the island were affected, the northern parts of the island took the biggest hit and several people have been displaced.

There are over 1,000 people in 21 shelters across the island.

Landslides cut off parts of St Lucia

Over in St Lucia where Tomas caused severe damage on the south of the island in particular, residential, infrastructural and agricultural damage is being described as extensive, with disruptions to the road network also being significant. Two main bridges were left impassable along the Castries/Vieux Fort highway. D’Orange Bridge, which is one of the main bridges along the Castries/Gros Islet highway was damaged, along with Choc Bridge where a vehicle fell into the gaping hole. 

Minister of Communication and Works, Guy Joseph, has indicated that it will take a week to restore linkages between Vieux Fort and Castries due to the road and bridge damage. Additionally, the town of Soufrière may be inaccessible by road for up to three weeks. According to a Caribbean Risk Managers Ltd Special Event Bulletin, the resulting disruption has essentially resulted in the northern section of the island being cut off from the south of the island. This has serious economic implications as the international airport is located in the south of the island and the tourist locations are concentrated primarily in the north of the island.