Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Islands in need


Washed away: There was extensive flooding and damage to property in Cane Grove, St Vincent. —Photo courtesy iwnsvg.com

Mark Fraser


Helping hand: ITNAC volunteers during recent preparations to take emergency items to St Lucia.

Mark Fraser

Local philanthropic organisation Is There Not A Cause (ITNAC) has joined efforts to assist St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia, where a total of 13 people lost their lives after terrible floods wreaked havoc on the islands and damaged infrastructure. A team from ITNAC has already delivered water, food, clothing and toiletries to St Lucia and has now turned its attention to St Vincent. The philanthropic group is seeking the generous assistance of the public to send a container of items to St Vincent.  ITNAC founder, Avonelle Hector-Joseph said her organisation is also in need of temporary warehouse storage to house and sort items to be shipped to the islands. 

 “Within 96 hours we sent volunteers to St Lucia with 90 cases of water, food, clothing and toiletries. We are going to St Vincent on Thursday. We will be assisting with building supplies which will be shipped on the Caricom boat. We need storage – a warehouse to store stuff. Work will be ongoing. We have been working with St Vincent since 2006 which made our transition during this disaster smoother as we already have contacts there. We continue to gather supplies. Our office will be open to anyone who would like to donate, at Charlotte St between Duke and Park upstairs Hosein’s Roti Shop and Payless Supermarket. We are also at ITNAC’s Guest House, Sa Maison 6 Anderson St in St James, where we will also be receiving donations,” Hector-Joseph said.

ITNAC’s senior coordinator, Joanne Loobie who was part of ITNAC’s team of volunteers said the situation is dire. She noted the devastation and havoc wreaked by landslides and flooding. “Water in St Lucia comes in spurts. We went to Canari where the situation is terrible. They need everything; everything was destroyed. A lot of families are affected. We were there for two days. What the people need most is food and basic amenities. They need beds; they have nowhere to turn – all there is, is slush and silt.  You are looking at people and you are not sure if they are angry or in shock. You don’t know the state of their minds.”

Loobie said Trinidad and Tobago is not ready for such a disaster and should use what happened to St Vincent and St Lucia to put strategies in place. “The Caribbean needs to come together and help. When you neighbour’s house is on fire wet yours; nobody knows who will be next. There was no warning. There was lightning for two hours straight and then the rains came for 24 hours. If we get rain for 24 hours straight in T&T we will be in real trouble.  This is an example for T&T to put things in place. “We still need people to continue to donate. We need building supplies for St Vincent. I don’t think T&T is ready for such a disaster. T&T needs to get serious about putting proper infrastructure in place to prevent major damage if such a disaster should occur,” Loobie said.  

ITNAC is a local NGO which has been involved with a number of social-improvement projects which span the globe and has impacted families in India, Haiti, Jamaica, Guyana, Kenya and Trinidad and Tobago. In Kenya, the group partnered with Somalia Outreach to feed and clothe 560 persons and pay medical bills for a number of HIV-positive Kenyans. To contact INTAC, call 624-4162, 742-1879 or 394-2042; or visit the organisation online at its website, itnactt.ning.com and its Facebook page, facebook.com/itnac.trinidad. Cheques can be made out to Is There Not A Cause. Deposits can be made in the name of ITNAC at Republic Bank Ltd, account number 510009446803.