…gov’t obtaining info on citizens in other islands
By Alexis Rodney
THE Guyana Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been taking steps to provide assistance to Guyanese who have been hit by Hurricane Irma, even as it has confirmed that some 300 of this country’s citizens living in Barbuda have been affected by the storm.
Already devastated by Hurricane Irma, some Caribbean islands are now bracing for the back-end of a deadly double-whammy, as powerful Hurricane Jose prepares to make landfall. The unrelenting pummelling of the Caribbean was set to continue this weekend as Category 4 Jose followed a similar path to Irma, the National Hurricane Center said. According to the NHC’s 11 a.m. advisory, Jose was roughly 415 miles east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands — which Irma already hit earlier this week — barrelling in at 18 mph with 150 mph sustained winds. Antigua and Barbuda were alerted of possible “life-threatening flooding” due to Jose. Hurricane watches were in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, St Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy. Those islands had already counted 12 of the 23 deaths related to Irma.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Guyana Chronicle on Friday that it has been in touch with Mr. Robert Reis, the Honorary Consul in Antigua, who has since informed that there are about 300 Guyanese living in Barbuda– one of the islands that was virtually flattened by the monster storm. The ministry said Mr. Reis is currently trying to obtain information about the welfare of Guyanese.
Regarding St Maarten, another of the islands that have been devastated, the ministry said it was impossible to reach the Honorary Consul there, Mr. Cleve Beresford, since communication lines are down. However, on the French side of the island, Guyana’s Honorary Consul in French Guiana, Ms. Pravis Tracey-Lecante, has indicated that persons requiring information on their relatives may contact her on the following address:
email@example.com. The ministry said the consul-general would need the persons’ full names, dates of birth, genders and addresses.
The Guyana Chronicle on Friday reported that Guyanese residing in Caribbean nations in the path of Hurricane Irma, like the inhabitants of those islands are bracing themselves for the Category 5 storm, which has already devastated several locations that it has visited, leaving thousands of people homeless and at least 10 dead. From initial reports, many Guyanese have been affected on the islands Irma stormed through. Some have lost their homes and many others have been unable to communicate with their families. Families and friends of those in the path of the storm are praying and are hoping for the best. Guyanese-born journalist, Olivia Rose, who is currently posted in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), told the Guyana Chronicle Thursday that the country is in a total state of preparedness.
Mere hours before the hurricane actually hit the archipelago state of 40 low-lying coral islands, Rose said gusty winds and heavy rainfall were already being felt. Speaking to this newspaper via Facebook, Rose said she had completed her last-minute preparations and was ensuring all is in place before the electricity and water facilities are disconnected. “Nothing too devastating as yet for us,” she said, adding: “Our fear is tonight (Thursday), into tomorrow.”
In her report, Rose said shelters have been activated throughout the islands, with special emphasis placed on flood-prone areas and those susceptible to the more than 180mph wind speed that the hurricane has been maintaining for the last 24 hours. Another Guyanese in the TCI, Delana Isles, via Facebook, described the atmosphere as scary, noting that Irma is on a head-on-collision course with the island. “I’m truly sad at the destruction I’ve seen in two countries I’ve called home these past few years. It truly hurts me to see the destruction in Tortola and the many pleas for contact with friends and loved ones here on Facebook. Barbuda, the damage is too devastating for words. Here in Turks and Caicos, we are preparing for the worst, and quite frankly it is more than a little frightening.”
In Antigua, where Irma has devastated sister isle, Barbuda, Guyanese designer Dawn Von Rossum said the atmosphere there is very tense. She said Antigua managed to escape the full force of Irma as the storm shifted somewhat, but another growing storm, Jose, which currently carries a Category One status, has given cause for some panic. “We dodged the bullet. In fact, I slept through the storm and there was minor damage in my location but people are very nervous.” Despite Jose being likely to be much weaker than Irma, she said persons are fearful after seeing Barbuda, the Queenstown resident said.
President David Granger has since committed Guyana’s support for Caribbean states which have been ravaged by Hurricane Irma, even as the international community mobilises its response to the disaster. In a statement on Thursday, the President David Granger-led Government said it stood in solidarity with the people of the hurricane-ravaged territories of the Caribbean and President Granger expresses condolences to his colleague Heads of Government and residents of affected states and to the relatives of those who lost their lives as a result of this storm. Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who is responsible for the disaster relief agency, the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), said that Guyana stands ready to lend technical and other forms of support. He disclosed that the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has already sent out Situation Reports (SITREPS) to all its member states, but thus far there has been no direct request for assistance as need assessments are being completed.