CARICOM Meeting Postponed as Member States Assess Hurricane Damage

CARICOM Meeting Postponed as Member States Assess Hurricane Damage

This week was to be a celebratory week for countries in the Caribbean, but with Hurricane Beryl swirling through the region, it was anything but celebratory.  CARICOM issued a statement saying that this is a frightening start to what is forecast to be a very active hurricane season. In this vein, CARICOM States came together today to make an assessment to strategize on the urgent support they will be giving sister nations to recover and rebuild.  Belize will be assisting where it can as confirmed by Prime Minister John Briceno.

John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize: “Probably many Belizeans were not aware but Grenada is taking over the chairmanship of CARICOM starting the 1st of July and the meetings should have been done this coming week. But unfortunately because of the hurricane that’s not possible anymore. So we had a virtual meeting this morning for the different countries, especially Grenada and St. Vincent of the Grenadines and of course Jamaica to all its extent for them to also report the extent of the damage that was caused by Hurricane Beryl. it seems that St. Vincent and the Grenadines are the ones that got the biggest, the most damage and certain communities are virtually wiped out and Prime Minister Gonzalves said that the rebuilding and the recovery is going to be hundreds of millions of the EC money. And so it’s going to be a long process. Grenada, the same thing, again they are more the smaller islands that got badly hit including the main island Grenada and again they have extensive damage. Damage especially to homes and in both countries crops that have been wiped out, infrastructure, electricity and so forth. Jamaica point out that they’re fortunate that they did not get a direct hit but nevertheless power is a problem. A lot of their lampposts were knocked down by the hurricane and so there is an urgency in trying to get power back up in the country. So in the discussion it was pointed out that we need to see how we can get international assistance very quickly. Our people can’t wait. They’ll be hungry, many of them will not be able to work, their crops have been wiped out, their homes have been badly damaged and so they have to be rebuilt all over and use this collective frustration that these international bodies take too long to respond and President Ali was very emphatic on that point and saying that we as a community need to be able to make our own report and give it to these international communities so that they can see the extent of the damage and where we need help as opposed to them coming to the countries and do their own reports which will take several months.”

July 4 marked the anniversary for CARICOM which was to be marked with the 47th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government.  The meeting had to be postponed, as Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique have been badly damaged with housing and other infrastructure nearly 100 percent destroyed.  In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, similar infrastructure on Union Islands, Canouan, Mayreau, and the Tobago Cays have been severely damaged or destroyed.  In Barbados, the fisheries sector has been devastated and the livelihoods of fisher folk will have to be rebuilt from scratch.  Initial reports from Jamaica indicate infrastructural damage, blocked roads, flooding, and losses in the agriculture and fishing sectors.  The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and national disaster management agencies which together coordinate the emergency assessment and response across the Region; the Regional Security System (RSS); and the regional private sector, including the CARICOM Private Sector Organization Inc. (CPSO), have all been rallying to address the needs of those impacted so far, while others stand ready to assist in different ways.

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