The heavy rains that have been impacting St. Vincent and the Grenadines since last weekend have resulted in land slippages that have compromised a number of houses.
Acting Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel gave an update on the impact of the adverse weather at a press conference, on Thursday, even as a strong tropical wave continued to affect the country.
He said that the impact was most severe in northern St. Vincent, noting that the adverse weather comes during the traditional height of the hurricane season.
“I want to indicate that over the last couple of days that the weather condition has been very challenging to the country and the wider Caribbean, the minister said, noting the impact of Hurricane Fiona and Tropical Storm Gaston on the northern Caribbean.
The minister said he has been in touch with the National Emergency Management Organisation as the tropical wave continues to impact the country.
He said that as the wave passes through, the country could expect about two inches of rain, even as the soil is already saturated as a result of heavy rains since the weekend.
“From last weekend, there was heavy rainfall across the country and this resulted in damage, particularly to the north eastern and western side of the country to the extent that many properties are challenged,” Daniel said.
He said the Ministry of Transport And Works — which he heads — is leading an assessment team to Owia, Sandy Bay and Petit Bordel, where damage has occurred.
“It is unfortunate as to what has resulted over the weekend. For instance, in Petit Bordel, there is a larger structure, a house, as I understand it, it is a three-bedroom house and it is sitting just above a one-bedroom house below and the one-bedroom house is being threatened because the foundation of the three-bedroom house is being challenged,” he said.
Petit Bordel is a coastal village in northwestern St. Vincent.
Daniel said that on Wednesday, the Cabinet decided to have the Ministry of Social Development move the residents of the smaller house to safer accommodation.
He said he did not have as yet the details on the number of people affected by the situation in Petit Bordel.
The acting prime minister said that in Owia, a village in North Windward, which he represents in Parliament, there was a large landslide affecting four or five houses.
Daniel said that the landslide occurred on a slope from which the vegetation that prevented soil loss had been removed.
“But, as result of our people wanting to live somewhere and not having the requisite approvals, they went in and built their houses, removed the vegetation and the top soil…”
The minister said that as the roots of the trees have rotted away, the soil became more exposed, resulting in the landslide.
Daniel said he was awaiting the assessment of the technical team, which he said should have visited the area on Tuesday.
In Sandy Bay, another North Windward community, there was some erosion and soil loss that threatened one or two houses.
In one case, a retaining wall collapsed, Daniel said, but added that this can be replaced in a short period of time.
“But I will await the assessment overall and ensure that we can, as a government, restore what is best for the area in terms of safety and protection.”
He said that on Wednesday, with wind gusts between 30 and 35 mph and seas unusually high, the Cabinet decided that children North of the Rabacca Dry River or who travel between St. Vincent and the Grenadines islands or among Grenadine islands should return home before noon.