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Heavy equipment clean a gutter in Sion Hill on Sunday, June 30, 204 ahead of Monday's anticipated impact of Hurricane Beryl, a category 4 cyclone.
Heavy equipment clean a gutter in Sion Hill on Sunday, June 30, 204 ahead of Monday’s anticipated impact of Hurricane Beryl, a category 4 cyclone.
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Opposition Leader Godwin Friday on Sunday urged Vincentians to heed the warning of the authorities regarding Hurricane Beryl, which is expected to impact St. Vincent and the Grenadines Monday morning.

Friday said that while many Vincentians have not experienced a direct hit from a hurricane, several of his family members were killed by a hurricane in 1955 — before he was born.

“This is a very, very sombre occasion that we are here today gathered on the radio to greet and to reach out to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said in a joint radio broadcast with senior party officials.

Friday was joined by Chairman of his New Democratic Party (NDP), MP For West Kingstown Daniel Cummings, who is the party’s spokesperson on health and public infrastructure, and Central Kingstown MP, St. Clair Leacock, who is an NDP vice-president and the party’s spokesperson on national security.

Friday was speaking from Bequia, in the northern Grenadines, which he represents in Parliament.

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He said he had been around the community to see how people were preparing for the cyclone, which is expected to approach SVG from the Grenadines as a category 4 hurricane around 8 a.m. Monday.

“That is on the very serious end of the scale. And, the consequence or impact of this is very, very serious for the loss of life, serious injury and damage to property if we do not take the necessary precautions,” the opposition leader said.

“I am heartened by what I’ve seen in my own community here, that people have been making the preparations, that they are taking this very, very seriously and doing what they can. This should be done throughout the country.”

Friday said he had made it a point to encourage people to prepare rather than simply thinking that the storm would pass without impacting the country.

Godwin Friday
Opposition Leader and President of the NDP, Godwin Friday in a file photo.

“Of course, that is our hope and our prayer. But we also know that we have to take measures that are necessary to protect life and property and ensure that we are here at the end of the day tomorrow when this passes, because this, too, shall pass…”

He cautioned people not to go outside during the storm although they might think it safe to do so.

“Please listen to the advice of the authorities. This is not a time to improvise and to do your own research as to what is best and so forth.

“These are people who we have given the responsibility to suggest and say to us what is necessary to just stay safe. Follow that advice,” Friday said.

He said he spent at least three hours Saturday night in a meeting of the Bequia disaster response group “discussing the various possibilities and the plans that are needed to ensure that as much as we can that people are safe, moving those persons who are vulnerable to shelters, letting people know where the shelters are”.

Friday urged people who might need to do so to move into emergency shelters while it was still daylight and “not to wait until it gets dark, or until the storm is upon us to realise that you should have made a different decision.

“Take it seriously. If you think that you have a risk in your home that you don’t feel safe, then go to the shelter, or go to a neighbour or a friend who has a more secure location.”

He also urged people to stock up on storm essentials, adding that preparing for the hurricane is akin to the preparations the nation made in April 2021, when La Soufriere volcano erupted explosively.

“Have your medications secure, so that you will have them accessible in the event that this system causes greater damage than we all hope will be the case,” he said.

Fishing boats
Fishing board anchored on the Calliaqua Playing Field on Sunday, June 30, 2024, to prevent them from being washed away by sea surge or floodwaters during Monday’s anticipated passage of Hurricane Beryl.

The opposition leader further encouraged people to secure their travel documents, ID cards and cash.

“If you leave your home to go somewhere else, when the storm starts, you don’t say well, I forget so and so on, you’re going back to get it. No, you stay in your secure location and protect life and limb so that there is no serious injury.”

He said that if the storm hits as forecast, little help would come during the passage of the cyclone.

“People will be looking to secure themselves. So, make sure that you do what is necessary beforehand… make sure that they are safe and secure before the system strikes us as it is forecast to do during the early hours of Monday morning.”

He said his family was devastated by Hurricane Janet in 1955 when his grandfather and two of his grandfather’s brothers died at sea during the passage of Hurricane Janet on a boat that the family operated.

 “… they were coming from Barbados… They didn’t hear the news of the hurricane, they didn’t know; when they found out they were in the midst of it. They all died. Every single one of them perished,” Friday said.

“We now know how to protect ourselves because we saw this coming for some time. Of course, the severity of it has increased over the course of the last 24 hours. And the forecast is that it is increasing because it’s going over warmer water. So the consequences are potentially dire. My dear people, let us take it seriously,” Friday said.