(See video at end of post)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has urged the nation not to hide the extent of suffering that has resulted from the 24/12/13 disaster.
He told the media after a high level meeting on Saturday that he has no fear that with the high level meeting of national and foreign officials, persons may feel that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a disaster area.
“Well, the country is not a disaster area, as a whole. We have declared several areas disaster areas. We have a functioning society going on,” he said.
“Sometimes, people are fearful of not speaking what the truth is [because] tourists may not want to come. Well, those tourists who don’t come, I just accept that as a fact of life, but I have to deal with the problem I have in front of me, which is real flesh and blood people who are suffering,” Gonsalves said.
“So, I don’t want to put up any veil, I don’t want to put up any mask, I want us to understand what we are doing. And once people understand what we are doing, it is the best way to attract people to us, Rather than to have a pretence of something otherwise. People are suffering in this country, no question about it. People have lost their lives, families are suffering…” he said, noting that one family in Rose Hall lost five members in the disaster, which has claim eight lives, while five persons are still missing.
Saturday’s planning meeting included members of the Cabinet; diplomats; senior government officials; Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and chair of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Baldwin Spencer; local and foreign contractors, utility companies, financial institutions, representatives of the governments of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, and representatives of Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA.
The severe rains and high winds due to a low level trough system has also impacted St. Lucia, and Dominica.