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Persons who lost fridges, stoves and mattresses in the Christmas floods have begun receiving free replacement, compliments telecommunications provider, Digicel.
The distribution began in Buccament Bay on Friday, exactly one month after the disaster.
Nine persons died, and three are missing as a result of a low-level trough system that triggered floods and landslides across St. Vincent, damaging 662 houses.
The total damage to housing, infrastructure and agriculture has been estimates at EC$330 million.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had announced that a businessperson would donate a fridge, a stove and a mattress to each person who lost these items in the floods.
He did not name the donor initially, but told I-Witness News in Buccament Bay on Friday that it was Denis O’Brien, and principal shareholder of Digicel.
“I didn’t want to reveal his name earlier, for the simple reason that it was not opportune. It was not the appropriate time,” Gonsalves told I-Witness News.
He said he knew that when the first set of mattresses, fridges, and stoves were donated that the representative of Digicel would be present.
Local manager of Digicel, Sean Latty, and Marketing Manager, Juno De Roche, were on hand in Buccament Bay, where 62 persons received appliances and mattresses.
Gonsalves said his Government aims to give a stove, fridge, and mattress to each person who lost these items during the disaster.
He said he persuaded Digicel to buy the items from local suppliers.
Gonsalves said there are several reasons for this, including that the money will be spent locally, the suppliers are familiar with the types of appliances commonly used locally, and there will not be a problem of a difference in voltage, as would be the case if the appliances were purchased in the United States.
“So that they would have stoves and fridges of a particular type and quality with which they have become familiar,” Gonsalves said.
He further said that the major dealers and smaller suppliers had a lot of these appliances in stock after Christmas.
“I am looking at some other contributors in relation to furniture and pot and pans and the like,” he further said.
Cylinders of cooking gas were also distributed, compliments Rubis.
Among the persons receiving a fridge and a stove was a woman who owns a bar in Cane Grove, another community in the Buccament area.
“Well, Comrade is a man of his word, so, I am happy,” the woman, said in reference to Gonsalves, when asked how she felt about receiving the relief items.
She, however, said that she did not expect to receive the items so soon after the disaster.
Meanwhile, Digicel’s marketing manager, Juno De Roche, did not disclose the value of the items distributed.
“That seems to be the popular question of the day, but we are not disclosing how much we are spending, because to us, our customers are important,” De Roche told I-Witness News.
“The most important thing is getting persons back to a normal state of living, helping out wholly this initiative that the Government has brought on,” she further said.
“Digicel saw an opportunity to help the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because, without them, there would be no Digicel,” she further said.