Saint Lucia commences rebuilding process at the end of Hurricane Tomas
Tuesday 2 November 2010 - The rebuilding process has began across very District in Saint Lucia following the devastation of Hurricane Tomas.
Contractors and technical crews from the Ministry of Communications, Works, Transport and Public Utilities have been working around the clock to return some level of normalcy to the county's infrastructure.
The Choc and Marisule Bridges which collapsed during the storm have both been rehabilitated to allow for vehicular access to and from the Northern District of Gros-Islet.
Several private crews have also been contracted and have began the clean up process in every nuke and cranny of Saint Lucia.
Hurricane Tomas battered Saint Lucia from midday Saturday, October 30 to the wee hours of Sunday October 31.
The Category 1 storm packed sustained winds and heavy rain, which resulted in fallen trees, infrastructural damage to buildings, damage to major roads consequentially restricting access to various areas, and temporary loss of utility services across the island.
Hurricane Tomas also dumped piles of mud and debris across the country.
REGIONAL & INTERNATIONAL HELP
The Government of Saint Lucia says it expects to receive tremendous assistance from regional and international partners in the wake of the storm.
Prime Minister Honourable Stephenson King has asked France to assist the island with search and rescue in the aftermath of what is already being described as the worst ever natural disaster in St Lucian history.
The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility has announced that it expects to make payments to Saint Lucia, Barbados, and St Vincent and the Grenadines under the disaster pooling facilities insurance scheme.
Preliminary calculations from the CCRIF show a payout of $3.2m for Saint Lucia.
IMPACT ON AGRICULTURE
Saint Lucia's Agricultural sector was also hard hit by Hurricane Tomas.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has been its assessments and will release a detailed report on the impact on the agricultural sector in the coming days.
Damage to the hotel plant was limited mainly to loss of landscaping and flooding
to accommodations although a few hotels reported some structural damage.
A comprehensive clean up exercise and restoration of critical infrastructure is underway and it is estimated that the country and its vital tourism industry will be back to normalcy
by Friday November 12, at which time the island will be in a position to welcome
all visitors in its usual legendary fashion.
The Government of Saint Lucia is committed to the practice of responsible tourism
and in that respect wishes to ensure the utmost safety and welfare of visitors and
citizens. In collaboration with the private sector, every effort is being made to
ensure the smooth departure of visitors who wish to leave by facilitating additional
airlift at both airports as well as transfers between the airports. Visitors wishing
to remain on island will continue to be taken care of.
Cruise ships will resume calls to the island on November 7.
Meanwhile, the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Port Monday announced the reopening of the George Charles Airport in the capital in a bid to relieve the suffering of a number of stranded passengers.
However, the Hewanorra International Airport in the south remains closed.
Every effort is being made to reopen the airport this week.
LOSS OF LIFE
At least 7 people were confirmed dead and several communities across the Saint Lucia remained cut off Monday, following widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Tomas over the weekend.
Government said that the damage caused by the storm could surpass US$100 million.
The southern town of Vieux-Fort was among the worst hit by the Category One storm, while five bodies including those of the owners of a popular craft shop in Soufriere, recovered from the wreckage of their homes that were hit by landslides.
Prime Minister Stephenson King had earlier said that an American visitor whose name was not disclosed, drowned on a north east coast beach while a 31 year-old woman died after her vehicle ran off the road and fell down a precipice.
Mr King said he had taken an aerial survey of the storm damage and it is clear that there had been extensive damage.
"From the air, the town of Soufriere appeared to have received the brunt of Tomas's fury and we will have to go into this area which was still blocked by landslides and virtually inaccessible to carry out a more detailed account of the damage," he added.
Prime Minister King said that there were other persons missing from the town and that search and rescue teams were in the affected area.
"Soufriere is devastated, everyone is locked in and no one can leave or get in by road or by phone, so that there are persons who need help but cannot be reached," the Prime Minister noted.
"It's not just a question of clearing these roads; sections of the network have completely disappeared. We are just going to have to find another way in and out of the town," he said.
The Government of Saint Lucia has expressed its condolences to the families of the individuals who lost the lives during Hurricane Tomas.
Prime Minister King has given the assurance that government will do every thing necessary to ensure that Saint Lucia rises again from this latest disaster.