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Acting Commissioner of Police Enville Williams says that more officers will be sent to the Southern Grenadines to protect and reassure storm victims amidst looting after the passage of Hurricane Beryl on Monday.

The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) has estimated that 98% of the buildings in Union Island and about 95% in Mayreau, Palm Island and Petit St. Vincent, respectively were damaged when the category 4 cyclone struck the country.

Williams told the media on Wednesday that there were reports of looting in the Southern Grenadines and the priority of the police is to support NEMO’s disaster response activities there. 

“There have been no reports of looting in St. Vincent but in the Grenadines islands that were affected, yes,” he said as he and NEMO Director, Michelle Forbes fielded questions from the media in Kingstown on Wednesday. 

“There have been a few reports of looting and we want to appeal to the residents, in as much as you are impacted by the hurricane, to remember that persons still own the items that you are pilfering from them,” Williams said.

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“Help is on its way, NEMO is doing all they can to send help to you in the form of food and water and everything else. So there is no need really to steal from your neighbours and your friends,” he said.

Williams said that the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force was working in tandem with NEMO and the Regional Security System (RSS) to continue to provide “that level of comfort through police presence on the ground for the residents who have been impacted by the hurricane so far”.

The police chief said additional troops were to leave for the Southern Grenadines later on Wednesday and also on Thursday “to continue that security posture, to help alleviate some of the strain and to help to coordinate the delivery of the supplies to the affected islands”.

Beryl struck St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a category 4 storm and Williams said a cyclone of that magnitude affected the security posture in the Grenadine islands. 

“Police stations on Union Island have lost their roofs and we have sent down a contingent of local officers to help to secure and make the residents, although they have lost their roofs, feel safe still.”

He said the constabulary was receiving help from the Regional Security System, in terms of troops.

“A small contingent of RSS member states’ troops arrived this morning and an additional contingent is on its way to help to augment what we have locally to help to secure and to make the residents of Canouan, Mayreau, Union Island feel a bit of safety from a security standpoint.”

The police chief said that on St. Vincent, police officers continue to perform their duties to make residents and visitors “safe and secure not just from the after effects or the trauma they might be going through, having gone through a storm of this size, but from whoever criminal elements might seek to want to capitalise on, say, the blackouts”.

Large sections of St. Vincent have been without electricity since Sunday or Monday.

Williams said there have been “quite a number of incidents that persons are making use of our vulnerability in terms of no electricity in areas and we are treating with that as best as we can to make sure that Vincentians are safe and secure from criminal minded persons”.

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