The Government of Guyana yesterday said it is intensifying efforts to coordinate relief for Guyanese nationals affected by Hurricane Irma in a number of Caribbean islands, particularly St Maarten and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). These two islands suffered serious devastation following the passing of the Category 5 hurricane, Irma.
Chairman of the Ministerial Task Force on the Caribbean Disaster, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, who is also a member of the task force, yesterday held a consultation with the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Major General (Rtd) Joe Singh (who is acting on behalf of Minister of State Joseph Harmon (Harmon is currently out of the jurisdiction) and other officials.
Col. (Rtd) Chabilall Ramsarup, Director General of the CDC, briefed the Task Force on the initial plans for Guyana’s response, following a briefing from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials with regard to the situation faced by Guyanese nationals in the various islands.
Following the three-hour long meeting it was decided that Minister Felix will head a Guyana Needs Assessment Team that will travel to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and St Maarten via Antigua to conduct an initial assessment of the needs of Guyanese nationals on the islands. They will report to the Ministerial Task Force which was appointed by President David Granger to coordinate Guyana’s efforts through the CDC, according to a Government statement yesterday.
The Task Force also includes Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, Minister Harmon, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson, Minister of Public Affairs, Dawn Hastings-Williams and Minister of Public Service Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine.
The Guyana Needs Assessment Team will comprise officials from the Department of Citizenship, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the CDC.
“The Government of Guyana has also decided to double the initial contribution towards relief efforts from US$50,000 to US$100,000. Prime Minister Nagamootoo expressed deep concern for the welfare of Guyanese, particularly in Tortola and surrounding islands, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. He expressed relief at reports that Guyanese who were evacuated from Barbuda to Antigua are being accommodated by relatives and friends on the main island there.
The Guyana Needs Assessment Team is tentatively scheduled to depart Guyana tomorrow.
In St. Maarten, a Dutch/French Island spanning 37-square miles that depends on tourism- an estimated 4,000 Guyanese are living there.
The BVI reportedly has several hundreds.
Irma, touching 180 miles per hour, was a deadly hurricane that carved a destructive path through the Caribbean before making it to the US mainland in Florida over the weekend where more deaths were recorded.
The destruction from Irma has been described as devastating and one of the worst in years.
In St. Maarten, where a large number of homes and businesses sustained significant damages, residents are reportedly without food and water and there were lootings.
Many of the residents are still without electricity and water with the modern Princess Juliana International Airport out of commission.
Dutch and French leaders including Royalties have visited the Island to assess the damages.
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