St. Kitts and Nevis receives support from OECS, as Hurricane Irma recovery efforts continue

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(Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ post Hurricane Irma relief efforts were significantly boosted over the weekend, as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) coordinated a regional response to the needs of the twin-island Federation, as well as the needs of the other islands affected.

On Sunday (September 11), Prime Minister of St. Lucia and OECS Chairman, the Honourable Allen Chastanet, along with Dominica’s Prime Minister the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit and Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus, Jules visited St. Kitts and Nevis where they carried out an assessment of the damages to the country and reaffirmed their solidarity with the Government and people of the Federation during this difficult time.

In addressing members of the media, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris commended his OECS colleague, Prime Minister Chastanet, for providing the necessary manpower from St. Lucia to help restore electricity and water to all parts of the country.

“We are hoping though that with the excellent show of solidarity which we have had from Prime Minister Chastanet, through the supply of some persons to assist with our reconnection efforts with respect to electricity, and today (Sunday 10) we had additional bodies coming in to assist us with our water, that in short order we will have all areas and all the individual households fully connected,” Prime Minister Harris said.

Prime Minister Chastanet said similar visits were also made to neighbouring Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Antigua, as the OECS Secretariat felt it was critical for residents of the sub-region, who were affected by these hurricanes, to know that the organization stands ready to assist in any way possible.

“Our role was simply to be proactive and support CDEMA (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency) in whatever role they were doing and specifically to make sure that our brothers and sisters here in St. Kitts and Antigua, and particularly the nationals of the OECS, who reside in the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and in St. Maarten, that they knew they had a voice and that there were people who were concerned about them and who were taking their best interest at heart,” the OECS Chairman stated.

“I think that this storm only reminds us again of the fragility of our current infrastructure and the necessity for us to be even more strong willed and more determined that we can get resources to help our countries become more resilient to these storms,” Prime Minister Chastanet said. “Things like putting your electrical wires underground may have seemed like a luxury before but it’s a necessity…and therefore the funding for those things is critical.”

Prime Minister Skerrit, whose country was devastated two years ago by torrential rains associated with Tropical Storm Erika, said recovery and relief efforts after any disaster can be a costly endeavor.

In that regard, the Government of Dominica made an initial contribution of EC$500,000 to St. Kitts and Nevis’ recovery and rebuilding efforts.

“We’re hoping by tomorrow (Monday, September 11), if not tomorrow by Tuesday this would be deposited into your Central Bank account so you could have immediate access to it because we understand that in these storms you need cash immediately to get things going and to bring normalcy to the lives of those affected by the storm.”

Prime Minister Harris expressed his sincere gratitude to his regional colleagues for their show of solidarity with St. Kitts and Nevis and also for their timely and much needed response.