The St Vincent and the Grenadines government said it would need “millions of dollars” to rebuild the country battered by a slow-moving low level trough that left eight people dead and at least five others missing.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who cut short his Christmas holidays in London, had dubbed yesterday “Clean up Kingstown Day”.
“As Prime Minister, I promise you to do even better than I have tried to do. Let us work together, we will recover, we will rehabilitate this country and we will do it in the shortest possible time,” he said.
“As difficult as the circumstances are, we are fortunate to be alive. It pains me greatly. Those who have suffered material loss, I am also deeply pained and I give you my word I will do my best to help,” Gonsalves said soon after attending a meeting with disaster and emergency officials immediately after his arrival in Kingstown on Thursday night.
“We have had a very difficult hit,” he said, noting the number of dead and missing, and expressed his condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed.
“We will remember these persons always. When the dust is settled on this, we have to build a monument to those who died,” he added.
Gonsalves said the briefing he received indicated “a disaster of a proportion the likes of which we have not seen in living memory”.
He said the destruction caused by the weather system that also affected the neighbouring islands of Dominica and St Lucia, resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The government has said given the state of the capital, it is advising that activity in the city be kept at a minimum.
Gonsalves called for all workers in essential services to report to work.
“I want to repeat, it is not a bank holiday but (Friday) is essentially clean-up Kingstown,” he said, adding that while he would like to see essential businesses operating, the city should not be a thoroughfare.
He noted that getting to Kingstown from some areas of the country would be difficult because of the condition of the road network. —CMC