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Disaster management officials were on Wednesday focusing on getting more support to the Southern Grenadines after Monday’s passage of Hurricane Beryl, which has claimed two lives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) Michelle Forbes, told the media that a boat is slated to arrive in Union Island from Antigua on Thursday morning.

“… that’s a part of the CDEMA mechanism and we are also ensuring, through Commissioner [of Police] that we have more security on the  ground in Union Island.” 

Forbes and acting Commissioner of Police Enville Williams fielded questions from the media at the Cruise Ship Terminal in Kingstown.

Forbes said that about 300 people were evacuated from Union Island by boat on Tuesday and NEMO was expecting more to arrive on Wednesday.

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NEMO has sent supplies to Canouan, Mayreau and Union Island on Tuesday. 

“We had persons on the ground yesterday but they are back and forth and we are working with the police closely to look at other issues in Union Island,” Frobes said.

“The islands are devastated and we are working with all state entities, private and public sector, to support the residents who have been affected in these area,” Forbes said.

She said only “about 11” of the houses in Mayreau seem to be OK. 

“One of the shelters was completely destroyed and they are getting reports out of Salt Whistle Bay in terms of the environmental impact, was split in two,” she said of the world famous beach that is vital to the island’s economy.

“Significant impact in Mayreau, significant impact in Union Island and also Canouan,” Forbes said. 

She said some people were staying at learning resource centres or other shelters. 

“Persons are just staying where they can. … We have sent down tents already that we will be setting up for the residents in Union Island.”

She said a team from the CARICOM Disaster Relief Union was in Union Island to help with erecting tents and other temporary emergency shelters. 

Forbes spoke to the media on day after visiting the Southern Grenadines.

She said 98% of the buildings in Union Island were damaged and about 95% in Mayreau, Palm Island and Petit St. Vincent, respectively. 

“You had significant storm surge inundation especially on Palm Island and Union Island.”

The airports on the islands are OK, Forbes said, apparently referring to the runways, as Union Island Airport lost its roof.

Meanwhile, in St. Vincent, there were 1,466 people in 64 shelters, Forbes said, adding that she was expecting that figure to rise as people arrived in Kingstown from the Southern Grenadines.

Forbes said that the people in shelters are from various communities across the country including Kingstown and Mesopotamia.

“So there are different pockets,” she further said, adding that there was “no one big concentration” in terms of the areas that the shelter occupants were from.

“… Kingstown and its suburbs had lots of the damage of the roofs so far but it is still preliminary because many person have not been able to report because of the situation with their internet and telephone system.”

The hurricane, the earliest category 5 storm to make landfall in the Atlantic Hurricane Season, tracked through the Grenadines and across the southern party of St. Vincent before moving out to the Caribbean near and on to the western Caribbean.

Forbes said that in Kingstown, people were asking NEMO for assistance with tarpaulins to cover their roofs and for cots and things to sleep on. 

“So those are the immediate needs,” she said, adding that the assessment started on Tuesday but was put on hold on Wednesday as a tropical wave was affecting the country.

The rapid needs assessment was being done through the regional response mechanism coordinated by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management.

“We are capturing everything. The social data is being captured from the Ministry of National Mobilisation and that will guide us also into the wider needs that there might be,” Forbes said.

She said that NEMO was distributing food to emergency shelters on Wednesday. 

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