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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking during a national address on Sunday, June 30, 2024 during the impending passage of Hurricane Beryl.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking during a national address on Sunday, June 30, 2024 during the impending passage of Hurricane Beryl.
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is urging residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who can do so to report to work on Tuesday, one day after the devastating impact of Hurricane Beryl.

“We are at a point where we have to work together to rebuild and we have to start urgently,” the prime minsiter said Monday night as he updated the nation on the impact of the cyclone.

Ahead of the passage of the storm, Vincentians were ordered to stay at home on Monday when the category 4 hurricane tracked across the country, leaving one reported death and hundreds of homes and other buildings damaged, according to government estimates.

However, Gonsalves said that the country reopens on Tuesday, when damage assessments are also slated to begin.

“We have to look at the assessment of the physical situation, the buildings, the river defences, the sea defences, what is happening there. We have to look at the overall damage and loss and that will take some time to make the assessment but we have to put things in place.”

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He said he did not want Tuesday to come without the beginning of the system for assessment and the commencement of mobilisation of resources.

“I am asking the business places to open,” he said, but added that the government and the private sector have to rely on the “sense of responsibility” and people’s “good inclinations and obligation” to help them to determine whether to attend work on Tuesday.

“Let’s face it, if you have lost your roof, you don’t have electricity and there is still the islandwide blackout on electricity, [or live on one of the few communities without water] … you are not going to reasonably be in a position to require much less to demand those persons to come to work,” he said.

Gonsalves said some people will attend work out of a sense of loyalty to their business or job.

“But I am asking that we restart the reconstruction process tomorrow,” he said, adding that he was meeting later Monday night with a small group from the National Emergency Management Organisation to look at specific matters. 

“I don’t want you to be able to come to work and say “Ralph has given me the out that if I don’t come is no big thing.’ 

“Well, it’s a big thing because you have to know. If it is ok for you to come to work, I want something to be triggered in you, ‘Yes, this is my country, I have to go there and play a part from very early. Everybody has to put his or her own shoulder to the wheel.”

The prime minister, however, said he would understand perfectly if people’s housing situation or domestic circumstances make it difficult for them to go to work.