BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- Eastern Caribbean states were yesterday continuing to assess the full impact of Tropical Storm Lili that is known to have killed four Vincentians, pounded banana and other agricultural crops in the Windward Islands, and caused extensive damage to houses and other structures, especially in Barbados.
Yesterday, as Jamaica was on alert for Lili being upgraded to hurricane status by today, St Vincent and the Grenadines was confirming the deaths of a woman and three of her children in a landslide triggered by the fierce winds of the storm that forced some 200 people into emergency shelters.
St Lucia was reporting damage of almost 75-90 per cent to sections of its banana industry (with small farmers being the worst affected), the evacuation of nearly 150 people from coastal areas and damage wreaked on houses, including the blowing away of roofs.
Like St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines' agricultural sector was also heavily affected with roads, schools and other buildings adding to the cost of damage suffered.
As in other countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) sub-region, Dominica said that schools were reopened yesterday and that the island was fortunate to have escaped with little or no damage at all.
But in both St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, the governments have had to promise emergency assistance to farmers and also to those who suffered severe damage to their houses.
In Barbados, where some 200 houses were damaged, some very severely, the director of the Meteorological Service, Chester Layne, expressed shock that such widespread destruction could have been caused by what he considered a comparatively "minimal system" packing about 64 miles per hour winds.
He said that it pointed to serious deficiencies in building construction that require urgent attention by the authorities and home owners to the need for proper engineering.
The country's estimated 43,000 schoolchildren returned to school yesterday after being advised to stay home on Monday and Tuesday because of the threats posed by Lili.