Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has thanked the Vincentian diaspora for their contribution to the relief effort after the devastating Christmas Eve floods last year, and has given account of how disaster relief monies raised by his party have been spent.
A low-level trough system dumped torrential rains on St. Vincent on Christmas Eve, triggering flash floods and landslides that left nine persons dead, three missing and millions of dollars in damage and loss.
Speaking at a New Democratic Party town hall meeting in New York last weekend, Eustace noted that unlike other disasters, the floods destroyed the content of many homes.
“We don’t normally have those in a disaster. Not to the extent that we have them now,” he said, adding that in many of the home he visited in the five constituencies affected, the loss was almost total.
“I thank you for the role you have played in assisting your family at home,” he told the gathering in Brooklyn.
Eustace also thanked the institutions that sent aid via the NDP, adding that most of the aid was sent from Canada.
He however, described as “wicked” the Ralph Gonsalves government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for imposing duties on the items, although he said the NDP was not asked to pay the full amount.
Eustace said that the NDP received EC$75,000 worth of clothing, EC$22,000 in food items, and paid import duties of EC$5,000.
He said the party made contributions of EC$8,000 to the families who lost loved ones, paid EC$2,300 for security of transportation of aid, paid EC$16,100 to buy food locally from monies raised through a telethon, and paid EC$300 for land transportation.
He said the party has EC$7,100 remaining in the bank.
“I applaud all of you. But in the foreign policy of the government, we hear a lot about Venezuela and Iran and so forth. I don’t have any problem with that, but we don’t have no diaspora there.
“Our people are living in the countries that I am speaking about. I am very concerned that in our foreign policy the focus is shifting away from these countries, and we will pay a price for it,” Eustace said.