– CDC coordinates relief efforts with CDEMA
WITH substantial commitments already made by Guyanese who wish to provide assistance to St. Vincent, where the La Soufrière volcano has begun to erupt, the Civil Defense Commission (CDC) will begin loading shipments on Monday and that ship can sail by Tuesday, according to the CDC’s Director General, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig .
In an invited comment on Sunday, the Director General told the Guyana Chronicle that the CDC is scheduled to begin shipping the relief items on the ship on Monday. These include non-perishable food items, safety supplies, water tanks and sanitary supplies.
“The ship has been identified and once we start loading – everything is equal, including the weather [and] all supplies are delivered on time – the ship can leave on Tuesday, ”the Lieutenant Colonel related. He also noted that this ship should take about three days to reach St. Vincent.
On Saturday, President, Dr. Irfaan Ali; Brigadier Prime Minister (ret’d), Mark Phillips, and Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo met urgently at State House with members of the CDC and the private sector to coordinate Guyana’s emergency response to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
A statement from the President’s Office highlighted that President Ali stressed the importance of getting the relief items to the country quickly, and urged attendees to put all systems in place to deliver in the fastest time possible. It was also noted that this emergency response was expected to be the first of many Guyana.
On Sunday, the CDC’s director-general highlighted that there are two other vessels in reserve to take extra relief supplies to the affected island. However, subsequent relief will be led by the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA), as this body is currently monitoring the country’s needs and liaising with other countries in the Region.
“Guyana not only provides support and one of the things we have to do is to continually monitor the country’s support and needs and that is being done through CDEMA,” said Lieutenant Colonel Craig .
A subsequent statement from the President’s Office on Saturday highlighted that Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, who was also at the meeting on Saturday, was in contact with the honorary consul in relation to Guyanese on the islands.
“We have been quite comforted that the Guyanese there are being cared for. There is no request to move or anything, ”the President was quoted as saying.
The CDC director-general highlighted that the system of providing assistance through CDEMA does not necessarily provide for preferential treatment for the affected Guyanese in St. Vincent. He emphasized, however, that all affected people were taken care of.
Guyana Bank of Commerce and Industry Limited (GBTI) has set up St. Disaster Relief Fund. Vincent to help the island as it deals with the disaster. Individuals wishing to make a donation to the cause can do so by visiting any of the GBTI branches. The name of the account is: ST. RELIGIOUS FUND The VINCENT Disaster, while Account Number is: 011803403012.
In addition, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) is cooperating with the CDC to mobilize support for St. Vincent and Grenadines. The supplies that are arranged will help to address the immediate needs of the people. These supplies include, among other things: water tanks, buckets, coats, blankets, pots, field tents and kitchens, sleeping mats, and hygiene kits. Individuals wishing to donate items can contact the CDC at telephone numbers: 226-1114, 226-8815, 225-5847, 226-1027, 600-7500, 225-5347, 225-0977 or 225-5339.
To date, it has already committed itself to supplying drinking water, personal protective equipment, hygiene and sanitary supplies, water tanks and shelter supplies.
“DIH Banks has supplied water (five gallon bottles to fill a 20ft container), John Fernandes Limited has donated a 20ft container and a 40ft container (to send items to St. Vincent), and Gaico Construction and General Services have pledged two charter flight to CARICOM island, ”the lieutenant colonel noted, in a statement from the President’s Office on Saturday. DDL and several other large companies are also committed to donating items.
PERSONNEL ON STANDARD
In addition to the relief items, it was highlighted that the Guyana Defense Force (GDF) was on hand in case they were needed on the ground following the explosion.
On Sunday, Lieutenant Craig explained that local authorities, including the CDC and other technical agencies, had been alerted to the situation in St. Louis. Vincent several months ago, when there was an increase in seismic activity. As such, he noted that since then local personnel have been on standby and are ready to provide assistance to the sister country of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, during his talk on Saturday morning to his countrymen, that he had been engaging with the governments in the wider Caribbean Region.
“The President of Guyana has been in contact with me quite often,” said the Vincentian Prime Minister, adding: “They load a ship to send lots of supplies.” He also highlighted that President Ali had informed him of the private sector cooperation, including the special account set up to send relief to the island.
The volcano erupted at 08: 41hrs on Friday, after the government on Thursday issued an evacuation warning for people living in the Red Zone, which is in the northernmost part of the island where the volcano is. This evacuation order was issued following an increase in seismic activity, indicating that the volcano would soon erupt. The Red Zone is referred to as “the danger zone,” along with the Orange Zone (the area just south of the Red Zone).
News 784 reported in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, that the Geologist and Professor Richard Robertson said that more explosions were expected soon, and that the first one was not the largest.
“If there is a much bigger explosion, the ash can spread further [sic] to the south. This could last for days or weeks and the monitoring will continue, ”News 784 quoted Robertson as saying.
It was also reported that others were likely to occur after the initial explosion. Later, on Friday afternoon, at 14: 45hrs and then at 18: 35hrs, other explosions were recorded. At 05: 00a on Saturday, yet another explosion was recorded. Videos posted on social media by St. Vincent residents showed ash spreading to communities, covering buildings and surfaces. On Saturday, Barbados Today reported that the ash had spread to Barbados.
In the midst of the natural disaster unfolding in St Vincent, several other countries at CARICOM have also confirmed their assistance to the Vincentian Prime Minister and his people.