Caribbean people who want to send relief items to St. Vincent and the Grenadines are being urged to coordinate with their national disaster offices.
Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Elizabeth Riley, made the appeal today as she addressed a virtual press conference to discuss the agency’s relief efforts for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, following the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano.
Ms. Riley said: “As you can imagine, their lives have been very much disrupted by what has happened. Many of the persons who are working in emergency services and coordinating have been personally affected as well. And given the level of pressure that they are under, we absolutely don’t want to create another layer of a challenge for them to be sending relief which is outside of the coordination mechanisms….
“I know that many entities are absolutely well meaning, but please stay in touch with your national disaster offices. Ensure that the work that you are doing is consistent with the needs list that has been issued. We are discouraging unsolicited items from the needs list because we don’t want to create a secondary disaster by overloading the country with items which are not prioritised at this time.”
The Executive Director explained that the needs list would change over time. For example, she stated that an assessment would be completed in another four days and the list would be revised.
With regard to those independent vessels that have been sailing to St Vincent and the Grenadines to take items, she said while the intent of the actions were appreciated, she reminded that the port there was very important in the supply chain, at this time.
“The airport in St Vincent and the Grenadines is in fact closed. So, this is the point of entry into country and we need to make sure that this point of entry is accessible to the relief items which are coming in, which have been sanctioned by the Government….
“We know that you are well intentioned, but it can cause a level of congestion…at the port and we absolutely don’t want this to happen. So, if you are thinking of providing relief items, please have a conversation with your national disaster coordinators,” she insisted.
Ms. Riley said CDEMA had mechanisms in place through memoranda of understanding with different companies, including Tropical Shipping, and was facilitating the logistics of the movement of relief items.
She told her listeners that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was encouraging financial contributions.
“The supply chain to the country has not been broken. In other words, ships are still coming in, they are restocking supermarkets. We do have some limited opening of supermarkets at this time, and keeping the economy going in country is equally important,” she stressed.
Ms. Riley said the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines had provided an official bank account for people to make deposits. S
he added that as requested, CDEMA had provided a Barbados dollar account, for locals, and a US dollar account for those in the diaspora, who wish to assist. Persons should visit www.cdema.org.
Meanwhile, she reminded her audience that the hurricane season would soon be here. She noted that the first forecast from the Colorado State University had indicated an above average season, with 17 named storms estimated, including four major hurricanes.