RRT St Vincent – Disaster and Relief Efforts
On Tuesday night, December 24th, 225mm of rain fell on St. Vincent & the Grenadines over only a few hours resulting in flash floods and loss of life.
While the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) mobilized, RRT also mobilized and provided meals and 50 beds for persons sheltered in an emergency centre on Wednesday evening.
About 240 persons were placed in emergency shelters as they had lost their homes and all their possessions. As one Vincentian put it “We simply had to run for our lives. There was no time to grab anything, not even our mobile phones”.
Not only had the storm extensively damaged housing and infrastructure island-wide, but several persons were missing (now confirmed as 9 dead, and 4 still missing). There was also an urgent need for clothing, and other supplies, so the PBCC helped NEMO with this.
Water flooded through the main airport, and throughout Tuesday night the PBCC assisted the airport staff and emergency crews to sweep out the water, mud and debris, and repair the airport fence. Refreshments were provided there at 1am Wednesday – the airport was able to re-open by 3pm that day.
Flooding through the main hospital had damaged US $326 000 worth of equipment and forced some areas of the hospital to be evacuated. RRT set to work on Wednesday afternoon helping the hospital staff with clean-up operations.
75% of the island’s population had no access to reticulated water supply. Pipes carrying water from mountain reservoirs to several communities, including many Emergency Centers, had been severely damaged by landslides. 28 bridges were badly damaged, which together with the landslides, resulted in some rural areas being cut off in the north of the island. The population needed water, and fast! Over the next 10 days, local businesses and individuals assisted with distributing bottled water as well as water in tanks to the affected areas. The PBCC distributed over 800 cases of bottled water and 100,000 liters of tank water – some of it had being boated to areas which were cut off by road. Relief efforts continued until Saturday 12th of January, when all areas had water services restored.
The government of St.Vincent has received generous offers of assistance to rebuild from other countries including the UK and Trinidad and Taiwan. They have formulated a proposal to relocate 300+ families whose houses were affected, which is a long term project expected to cost USD $17million. The three hydro power stations that supply 20% of St. Vincent’s electricity are out of commission due to the floods, for up to 3 months. Electricity supply is being maintained by the diesel power stations. Various government organizations are working to repair the roads and bridges and return the country to normality. Many Vincentians living overseas and other unselfish persons in St.Vincent also contributed to the relief efforts.