Death and ruin

US$16m pledged to hurricane-ravaged Caribbean islands

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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Pledges of assistance have come in for countries across the region that were last week ravaged by Hurricane Irma.

The CCRIF, formerly the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility; Scotiabank; the United Nations Development Programme; and the University of the West Indies have, in total, committed over US$16.4 million in relief efforts.

The CCRIF announced that it would pay out $US15.6 million (EC$42 million) to the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, Anguilla, and St Kitts & Nevis.

The CCRIF said the passage of the category five hurricane triggered the payments on the countries' Tropical Cyclone polices. The monies will be distributed accordingly to Antigua & Barbuda US$6,794,875; Anguilla US$ 6,529,100; St Kitts & Nevis US$ 2,294,603.

“CCRIF is verifying the payout calculations and is in discussion with the three governments about making arrangements for transfer of these payouts, which will be completed within 14 days after the event — as mandated by CCRIF's operational guidelines,” the organisation stated.

The CCRIF noted that it is accessing whether the Excess Rainfall (XSR) policies held by Anguilla and St Kitts and Nevis were also triggered by the rains from Hurricane Irma. This may result in a second payment to those countries under the policies. The assessment under the XSR policies will be determined in the next few days.

Meanwhile, Scotiabank has announced that it will donate US$500,000 to charitable organisations assisting with the rescue and relief efforts in the affected countries.

The financial institution noted that some US$250,000 will be given to the Canadian Red Cross, while the remainder will be pumped into initiatives that support youth in the affected areas.

Red Cross Societies, according to Scotiabank, have been active in affected areas, seeing to the mobilisation of volunteers and relaying public awareness messages. Relief supplies are on standby in Panama and the Dominican Republic to ensure an immediate response. The Canadian Red Cross has a presence in the area and is coordinating with the International Federation of the Red Cross and supporting the mobilisation of regional Red Cross teams.

“The devastation caused in the countries impacted by Hurricane Irma is heartbreaking,” Brian Porter, president and chief executive officer of Scotiabank, is quoted as saying in a release. “Scotiabank has been part of the affected communities for decades. We are committed to the region, and will support our customers and employees during these challenging times.”

“We are saddened to learn that there has been significant destruction due to the hurricane. We stand with the affected islands across the region, and intend to assist wherever we can”, Jacqueline Sharp, president and CEO Scotia Group Jamaica, said.

Similarly, the UNDP in Jamaica has expressed its readiness to support the national recovery efforts in the affected countries.

While noting that its efforts are not just for immediate disaster response but also for early recovery, the organisation announced that it has so far made a $300,000 donation to support assessments, coordination and recovery planning in countries affected by the hurricane.

In a statement from Bruno Pouezat, UNDP resident representative in Jamaica, the entity said it has joined forces with other UN agencies, funds and programmes in deploying first responder teams to the affected islands.

The Jamaican office, which also supports Turks and Caicos, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Bermuda, said it is arranging for first responder teams, which started arriving in the island on Friday, to travel to Turks and Caicos and The Bahamas together with Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) representatives. The team includes the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC), which will strengthen national capacity to assess damage to infrastructure, including water and sanitation, and coordinate relief efforts, as well as a UNDP disaster reduction specialist.

The organisation, in a release, said that based on these initial assessments, it will support the coordination of relief and reconstruction and the mobilisation of international resources for the recovery period.

“UNDP continues to monitor all hurricane systems in the region and is on standby to support the region make full recovery, rebuild more resilient economies and institutions, and fulfil the global pledge to 'leave no one behind',” the release said.

The UWI also pledged its commitment to assist and “bring the countries in the Caribbean back on a firm, positive development trajectory”.

While pointing out that the disaster affected thousands of Caribbean citizens to include UWI students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles expressed deep concern for the people of the Caribbean who have borne and continue to bear the brunt of Hurricane Irma as it continues on a path of devastation across the Northern Caribbean, with Hurricane Jose following close behind.

Beckles said the UWI has been in contact with CDEMA regarding relief efforts and will be requesting public support as the university mobilises engineers, doctors and other experts to help.

“The images of the destruction wrought on the countries of the Caribbean speak to significant reconstruction and attendant costs. However, despite their desolation, the voices of the people speak to courage, strength, resilience, and a determination to move ahead with their lives,” Sir Hilary said. “We applaud that spirit and say to them that our entire community is committed to their recovery and reconstruction.”

He added: “We also wish to let our neighbours and friends in the United States know that they are in our thoughts and prayers as they prepare to meet Hurricane Irma. We are reminded very frontally that despite being separate nations, we face common challenges as one hemispheric civilisation. This has come at a time when Caribbean nations are struggling to regain a forward development trajectory and can ill afford to have their infrastructure and investment opportunities so negatively impacted.”

The damage associated with Hurricane Irma has resulted in over 20 fatalities and caused damage to infrastructure.

Irma smashed homes, shops, roads, and schools; knocked out power, water and telephone service; trapped thousands of tourists; and stripped trees of their foliage, leaving an eerie, blasted-looking landscape littered with sheet metal and splintered lumber.

Irma victims on Friday fled their islands on ferries and fishing boats in fear of Hurricane Jose, a Category Four storm with 145 mph winds that was slated to affect already ravaged areas over the weekend.

Socitabank, which has been in the Caribbean for over 128 years, has solicited public support in its effort to assist the various islands. To make a donation to the hurricane relief fund, people are asked to make contributions, at any branch or online, to chequeing account number 803653 at the Scotiabank Centre Branch.

The UNDP is also collecting donations online at: https://Give.undp.org/Irma

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