Guyana to provide assistance to hurricane-hit territories

Hurricane Irma

As Hurricane Irma continues to make its way through several Caribbean territories, Government announced on Thursday that it is prepared to assist those countries hit by the devastating hurricane.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon said President David Granger has made that

An aerial view of the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma in Saint Martin

commitment following reports of severe destruction and at least 10 deaths across the Region.
“The Government of Guyana stands 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.”
Harmon, who has responsibility for the disaster relief agency – the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) – informed 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 needs assessments are being completed.
Harmon said too that Government is mindful that thousands of Guyanese reside and work in many of the affected areas and it is therefore ready to establish a line of communication to inquire after the wellbeing of citizens and those in the affected areas.
“I would like to, on behalf of his Excellency President David Granger, the Government and people of Guyana, express our deepest sympathy to the Government and people of all the countries and territories that have suffered the loss of life and property in the path of hurricane Irma,” he stated.
While Guyana did not experience the storm, the Minister said several communities in the hinterland region experienced heavy winds and rainfall over the past few days. As such, several damages were recorded but no deaths were reported. The CDC’s National Emergency Monitoring System will continue to monitor the situation and advise Government of the appropriate response.
Meanwhile, local telephone company GTT said it is continuing to monitor fibre connection to United States as Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc in the Caribbean. However, GTT has maintained international connectivity despite the disruption to the Eastern Caribbean fibre system caused by Hurricane Irma. GTT uses the Eastern Caribbean fibre system to transport service to the USA.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the company said the segment of the circuit between Saint Maarten and Tortola, British Virgin Islands was disrupted at 08:35h and restored at 14:05h on September 6, but GTT’s customers did not experience any outage due to the redundant undersea capacity. GTT promised to continue to monitor the situation and will keep the public informed about further disruptions.

International response
As the northern Caribbean region continues to grapple with the effects of Hurricane Irma, Prime Minister of Grenada and Chairman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Dr Keith Mitchell, has been in constant communication with the Caricom Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, and the Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mr Ronald Jackson, as they work together to ensure that the needs of the Islands in the Hurricane Irma’s path are addressed in a timely, efficient and safe manner.
Stemming from several discussions among the three officials in the last few days, a number of immediate steps have been taken so far by Caricom through its regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management, CDEMA, to address the needs of the affected Islands.
Rapid Needs Assessment Teams have been organised for ready deployment to Antigua, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. The teams include water and sanitation specialists, communications personnel, health specialists and fisheries and agriculture specialists, while the CDEMA has at the same time, mobilised personnel and resources to The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.
A number of islands in The Bahamas grouping are being evacuated through a number of flights, while CDEMA has a support team stationed in Jamaica in order to immediately support the needs of The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and Haiti, should those Islands be hit by Irma. The Agency has mobilised military personnel for deployment to affected islands and is in communication with Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad for additional military support and deployment, as necessary, to affected Islands.
On the other hand, the European Union (EU) said it is also mobilising its emergency response instruments to assist countries affected or threatened by Hurricane Irma.
International Medical Corps remains on standby to deploy disaster response experts to hard hit areas to provide life-saving assistance. International Medical Corps deployed experts to respond in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti last year, including operating mobile medical units and setting up and managing cholera treatment facilities.
With category five winds and rain, Irma is one of the most powerful hurricanes every recorded over the Atlantic Ocean. It has completely devastated Barbuda and also affected jurisdictions such as St Maarten, St Barts, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands.
The United States National Hurricane Centre predicted that Irma is likely to remain at category four or five for the next day or two while it passes to the North of The Dominican Republic and Haiti as it heads in the direction of The Bahamas and Florida in the United States.