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St Vincent and St Lucia tell TT thanks for the help

By JULIEN NEAVES Wednesday, January 15 2014

ON Friday the final shipment of relief items from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) will be sent to St Vincent and St Lucia, following devastating floods on Christmas Eve.

In a release yesterday, the ODPM announced that the shipment will leave the Port of Port-of-Spain on Friday, and it will no longer be receiving donated items.

The ODPM expressed gratitude to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, volunteers, private sector entities, NGOs and the Government “who have demonstrated extreme selflessness and generosity over the last month. Citizens across the country answered the call to provide aid to our Caribbean neighbours in St Lucia and St Vincent, who were devastated by flooding during the 2013 Christmas season.”

ODPM chairman, Dr Stephen Ramroop, said relief items have been sent via the T&T Spirit and another vessel will be used on Friday. He noted the affected countries have requested special pipes, as much of their infrastructure was damaged, and they were scheduled to send a list to the Water and Sewerage Authority requesting the items today. He said they were able to complete the list of requested items, including medical equipment, and also thanked some media houses for their donations, and in general for their coverage.

Ramroop explained that they had to close off donations as they have to pack the ship between today and tomorrow. The vessel will sail to St Vincent first, and then to St Lucia, and the supplies will be shipped in containers. There are supplies for about five containers. Among the items will be two portable shelters which will be used to set up schools in areas where children have been cut off.

Questioned about the situation on the ground in both islands, he said it was “much better” thanks to the public and Government of TT and citizens of both countries were “very, very appreciative”.

He said the support for the two countries was a good test case of what the ODPM is capable of doing in Trinidad and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

He noted that though the ODPM has closed off provision of relief supplies any private company or citizen was free to get involved.

Local NGO Is There Not A Cause will be sending 50 cases of water, 40 boxes of food and toiletries to St Lucia, and will be delivering ten bags of supplies to St Vincent this weekend.

The local Red Cross has also been sending relief supplies to the two countries.

On Christmas Eve last year a low level trough system caused major flooding and landslides in St Vincent and St Lucia, and at least 15 people were killed. Dominica was also affected by the system.

Cyril Saltibus, head of the National Volunteer Programme in St Lucia, told Newsday yesterday the rebuilding has been going on very well, adding that they have received a lot of assistance from sister countries and donor agencies.

Saltibus said they were very thankful to the Government and people of Trinidad and Tobago for responding in a timely manner, and they look forward to continued support.

“We are very thankful to Trinidad,” he said. He noted the major problem they are currently facing was providing the entire country with potable drinking water. He reported that water had been fully restored in the north of the island but the main water pump, which had been reduced to 60 percent since Hurricane Tomas in 2010, had been further damaged with the trough.

He reported that they are still assessing the damage, and do not have any estimates yet as they still have to survey deeper into the country. Saltibus said they were not “hastily doing repairs” but seeking to repair with the future in mind.

He noted because the disaster occurred at Christmas time there was not only a lot of physical damage, but also “a lot of emotional damage”. He noted that victims have been undergoing counselling through the Red Cross, the school system and government departments.

He noted they are a “resilient people” and “will survive”.

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