Getting Ready to go: Members of the Regiment pack an Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) truck with relief items at the National Warehouse at Tumpuna Road, Arima yesterday. Trinidad and Tobago has sent food and emergency supplies to St Lucia following devastating Christmas Eve floods that claimed the lives of several persons on the islands of St Lucia and St Vincent. (See Page 8) —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

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Trini supplies for disaster-stricken St Lucia

By Camille Bethel camille.bethel@trinidadexpress.com

Trinidad and Tobago has sent food and emergency supplies to St Lucia following devastating Christmas Eve floods that claimed the lives of several persons on the islands of St Lucia and St Vincent.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, chairman of Caricom and lead Prime Minister on security in the region, called on the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to ship supplies to St Lucia, from its National Warehouse.
In a release yesterday the ODPM stated that it had begun working with the Minister of National Security Gary Griffith to co-ordinate and manage the relief assistance to the affected Caribbean islands.
“The ODPM has activated the national emergency logistics system to provide delivery of the appropriate supplies to the Government of St Lucia. The ODPM has items in its National Warehouse as well as five Pre-positioned and Pre-packed 40-feet containers. Items necessary for immediate mobilisation have been placed in these containers and warehouses as well as agreement with the Supermarket Association, water manufacturers and other key suppliers of emergency goods and services.
“The CEO of the ODPM, Dr Stephen Ramroop, has been communicating with the Deputy Prime Minister of St Lucia, the Honourable Philip J Pierre, and received a list of items that were urgently required by the government and people of St Lucia,” the release stated.
The items requested included canned goods, biscuits, infant formula, water, mattresses, blankets, hygiene kits, disaster kits and first aid kits and the release stated that the Ministry of National Security and ODPM had initiated the process toward providing the items.
Rear Admiral Kelshall and Ramroop both made the trip to St Lucia yesterday to start the delivery of the relief items with the ODPM using five of its pre-positioned and pre-packed containers to send immediately as well as to rent another 40-foot container to send 150 mattresses.
The ODPM commenced packing of these two 40-feet containers and was expected to be shipped to Saint Lucia at 1 p.m. by the air guard on 26 December 2013.
Local media were initially invited to make the trip to St Lucia at 3 p.m. from the Port of Spain Ferry Terminal, to deliver the second batch of emergency items which were scheduled to be taken by ferry but this mid afternoon trip was eventually postponed.
Five St Lucians, lost their lives during the Christmas Eve floods brought on by rains and strong winds, which damaged roadways, bridges and homes, while nine people in St Vincent and the Grenadines, also died with reports of three others, still missing.
Up to yesterday the number of flights arriving and departing on the island of St Lucia remained limited yesterday as one of the island’s two international airports remained closed following the devastating Christmas Eve floods on the island.
An advisory from the Airport Service in St Lucia stated that the airport community: Customs, Immigration and other service providers had systems in place to facilitate passengers through the terminal as works continued to get the Hewanorra International Airport reopened.
“The George Charles Airport was re-opened from 9 a.m. yesterday (December 25) and operations are back to usual levels.
“Hewanorra International Airport was more extensively affected by the inclement weather which caused a significant amount of debris to settle on the runway and flooding in the terminal building. Airport crews have been able to work assiduously to accommodate safe landing of aircraft and passenger facilitation as of 3 p.m. today, December 26, 2013,” the advisory added.
Electricity and other services were being gradually restored in St Lucia, according to the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) reports, but on the neighbouring island of St Vincent several communities remained cut-off, up to yesterday.
“Unconfirmed reports said that the bodies of two people had been found and that the search was still continuing for at least two other people reported missing. So far there have been nine confirmed deaths from the floods associated with the heavy rains and winds that began battering the island on Christmas Eve.
The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) reported that several communities remain cut-off due to damaged bridges and blocked roads.
“Vehicular traffic cannot enter or leave the North Windward community of Sandy Bay, and several blockages from landslides are preventing access to communities in North Leeward. The Caratal bridge is damaged, and a Bailey by-pass bridge in Colonarie was washed away,” NEMO said in a statement posted on its website.
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