Christmas Eve Caribbean storm damage being analysed by OAS

The Washington-based hemispheric body said its Permanent Council on Wednesday received a report on the damages caused by the torrential rains over Christmas in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Dominica.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ambassador to the OAS, La Celia Prince, who requested the inclusion of the item on the agenda, noted that on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day “a low-level, high impact trough system passed through the Eastern Caribbean region, dumping enormous quantities of rain over parts of the Commonwealth of Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, taking lives, livelihoods, homes and vital infrastructure.” 

The diplomat recalled that the intense rains led to the deaths of nine people in her country, with four more missing, and said that the disaster affected 15 percent of the population of the country and caused “immense damage” in the agricultural sector. 

Prince expressed the gratitude of her country to the countries that have contributed to relief and reconstruction efforts, as well as to the OAS and other international organizations for their support.

She also called on the international community and her country’s Diaspora to contribute to relief and reconstruction efforts. 

The envoy said that what happened in the Caribbean “is an indication of the climate change problem that is affecting our world.” 

Prince’s St. Lucian counterpart, Sonia Johnny, said the rains caused six deaths in her country, and affected the lives of hundreds of others who lost their homes. 

“The full economic cost of the damage has not yet been determined,” she said. “It is clear however that the cost of reconstruction will run into several hundred million dollars.” 

The Permanent Representative of Dominica, Ambassador Hubert Charles, said that the disaster highlights the need to consider the vulnerability to major disasters that affect small Caribbean countries. 

“The government of Dominica was saddled with an unplanned tab of almost 50 million Eastern Caribbean dollars,” said Charles, who called for the issue of vulnerability of small states to be recognized as a “core imperative” in the Council and in the programs of the OAS. 

He urged countries to provide “greater support for the United Nations agenda on climate change and the protection of the environment, particularly as they relate to vulnerable small island states.” 

OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, expressed condolences to the affected countries, acknowledging that “the impact of the disaster has been felt at all levels” of the Caribbean nations affected by the climate phenomenon. 

“The OAS is committed through its sustainable development programs to assist in natural disaster mitigation

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