Damage assessment and emergency response ongoing in Saint Lucia

November 1st, 2010. Castries, Saint Lucia: (NEMO) - 24 Hours after the “All Clear” was issued following the passage of Hurricane Tomas, Saint Lucia is currently in damage assessment and initial response mode. Several aerial reconnaissance flights reveal large areas affected by swollen rivers, landslides from excessive rainfall and damage caused by high winds.

Based on initial reports emanating from District Disaster Committees, most parts of the island were affected by the Hurricane Tomas which according to the 8:00 pm Advisory issued October 30, 2010 was located at 13.5N and 61.7W with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and moving in a WNW direction at 9 miles per hour. Saint Lucia, according to the Met Office is no longer under storm threat.

Reports from the District Disaster Committees range from fallen trees, damaged homes, area flooding to downed power lines, structural damage and unconfirmed deaths.

Due to the slow movement of the hurricane over land, Saint Lucia experienced nearly 24 hours of battering by the storm. Residents are currently dealing with a massive clean-up of their homes, communities and businesses where it is safe do so. Electricity has been restored to several parts of the country and that process is continuing with St. Lucia Electricity Services, LUCELEC. Telecommunications remains a challenge, hence the paucity of information. Both mobile service providers have issued free credit to their customers to allow emergency and other important calls to go through. Several radio stations remained off the air with only Radio 100 Helen FM broadcasting throughout the day Saturday, October 31st through to November 1st, 2010. Another station, The Wave, regained broadcast capability today, November 1st, at around 1:30 pm. Radio St. Lucia is also broadcasting.

The John Compton Dam remains inaccessible due to landslide with damage and loss of power reported to its pump house. LUCELEC and the Water & Sewerage Company, WASCO, are working towards restoring the Dam to pre-storm capability for a safer and more reliable water supply. Residents are urged to conserve water and boil their tap water before consumption in the interim. Loss of life has been reported in the Fond St. Jacques/Soufriere areas, but these reports remain unconfirmed pending positive confirmation through the Ministry of Health by the Chief Medical Officer – both areas suffered major land slippage with houses clustered together as a result.

Based on aerial reconnaissance, Soufriere appears the most affected by Hurricane Tomas with major landslides and the area remains cut off from the neighboring communities of Choiseul and Canaries. The St. Lucia Electricity Services has committed to engaging the services of a barge to Soufriere to begin the process of power restoration. The town of Soufriere requires extensive clean-up. It is expected that Soufriere will remain isolated from the rest of the country for some time.    

The Director of the National Emergency Organisation, NEMO, Dawn French along with the Chairperson of the Disaster Assessment Needs Analysis Committee, Chamberlain Emmanuel, met with members of RNET, the Rapid Needs Assessment Team from CDEMA. RNET will be joined by IICA representatives later during their visit.  

Saint Lucia’s agriculture industry, particularly bananas were severely affected, with 100% crop damage reported. Livestock fared better with reports of drowned cattle being slaughtered for sale. NEMO has issued a warning to the public to desist from the practice and to not purchase the meat from animals that have drowned during the storm. Additionally the Prime Minister issued a warning of arrest for anyone caught slaughtering dead animals for public sale.

The Ministry of Education has issued a call for the closure of all schools for the rest of the week however commercial enterprises able to do business following the passage of Hurricane Tomas opened their doors to the public today.

NEMO has currently received qualitative data on the state of the country by sector with a view to putting together a quantitative assessment which will assist the Saint Lucia Government in informing donor agencies about the level of financial assistance the country eventually receives.

Contact: National Emergency Management Organisation
Bisee, Castries
Saint Lucia
Telephone:(758) 452-3802; (758) 468-2126
Fax : (758) 453-2152;e-mail - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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