The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has the resources to respond to the damage left by the flashfloods on Saturday, the second such extreme weather in eight months.
“… the floods which we had and landslides caused significant damage to the infrastructure and to homes, but not at a scale which approaches anywhere where we need to seek any assistance from any entity outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told a press briefing on Tuesday.
Gonsalves described damage caused by a low-level trough system as significant, adding, “Because I begin from the standpoint that if one family is dislocated it is a significant damage, because in a small country like our of 100,000 persons, we feel a sense of immediacy when people are dislocated from their dwelling place.
“Similarly, when we have roads blocked for any period of time or we have a challenge on any of the roadways, that it becomes significant. It doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly so, but you’d appreciate that again, in a small economy, small society like ours, where inconveniences occur on the road that they can be seen as significant but not in a manner which would undermine the movement of peoples in a way which is dramatic,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.
In giving an overview of the damage caused by the extreme weather, Gonsalves said the main E.T. Joshua Airport was severely flooded, with water levels in excess of three feet in the departure section.
There was flood damage in the VIP Lounge, the baggage scanner was damaged, the circulation roads were impacted with mold and other debris deposited by the floods, and a section of the perimeter fence was also breached.
Meanwhile, a section of the river wall collapsed in Arnos Vale and undermined the foundation of some of the residences.
Gonsalves said that before the flood, a World Bank-funded consultancy had been awarded to carry out a feasibility study and design river defences on the river in the Cane Hall and Arnos Vale areas.
The rivers in Vermont and Spring Village encroached on properties and affected some residences.
There were also landslides at Dorsetshire Hill, four slides on the Vigie Highway and some damage to CWSA lines in that area.
There were also landslides in Belair, and the clearance of the last slide was in progress Tuesday afternoon, when Gonsalves gave the press briefing around 2 p.m.
At Morne Garu in North Leeward, a 50-feet section of the lower embankment collapsed and compromised the road. The upper embankment was being cut to enable the flow of traffic, and designs for retaining systems were being prepared to stabilise the road, Gonsalves said.
Landslides affected several private residences, including in Dorsetshire Hill, where there were two landslides near SVGTV.
In Largo Height, a retaining wall collapsed on the residence of a couple. The woman is injured and is hospitalized, while the gentleman, an amputee, is being housed at the Rillan Hill Community Centre, where some persons affected by the floods and landslides in December 2013 are also being housed.
There was also a landslide at a private residence in Green Hill, and a family of eight in Trigger Ridge was also affected by a landslide and were being housed at the Sharpes Community Centre, along with a family similarly affected from the Largo Height area.
There was also a landslide in Rockies and a retaining wall collapsed in Long Wall.
Gonsalves, who is also chair of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) Council, said the individual families affected have been taken care of, and he has received the reports from NEMO and Godfred Pompey, permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, a port folio that Gonsalves also holds.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Works, said that the Chief Engineer, Brent Bailey, who also attended Tuesday’s press conference, was very concern that the retaining wall near the Belmont primary school is exhibiting signs of settlement.
There are vertical cracks appearing along a 70-foot section of the wall, and a 50-foot long crack to the soil behind the wall.
“This soil settlement is an indication of wall movement. BRAGSA is to install a barrier to prevent the students to access that area. And the school building will not be impacted. However, the hard court and the Vegie Highway could be impacted in the event of a failure of the retaining wall,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves said the Chief Engineer has assured him that there is a solution to cut out parts of the wall and put in some reinforcements.
He said he has asked the Chief Engineer to provide the estimates.
Floods and landslides from a trough system left EC$330 million (17 per cent of GDP) in damage and loss on Dec. 24, 2013.