Volunteer Len Isidore loading the boat to Soufriere. Red Cross Photo
CASTRIES, St Lucia — On Saturday October 30, the island of St Lucia was impacted by Hurricane Tomas, a category one hurricane. The system which was upgraded from a tropical storm at 11:00 am on Saturday, lashed the island with gusty winds, rain and sea surge.
Initial reports indicated that Hurricane Tomas caused loss of communication and electricity due to fallen poles and trees, and detached wires and cables.
Tomas also triggered severe landslides which have damaged road networks, as a result some communities have been completely isolated due to blocked roads and in some cases, roads and bridges have been completely washed out.
Low lying communities were also flooded by up to six feet of water from rivers which burst their banks, whilst others suffered flooding from sea surges.
Immediately following the storm, the St Lucia Red Cross dispatched an assessment team to conduct rapid evaluation of the situation in some communities. The St Lucia Red Cross EOC also received reports of persons in shelters and requests for immediate relief items from its prepositioned stock.
Despite the challenge with communication and transportation, distribution of immediate relief items and initial assessments are ongoing.
According to Hubert Pierre, Disaster Coordinator for St Lucia Red Cross, “Proper assessment is key. It will be difficult, but we will have to get the reports. Our desire is to work on immediate and critical needs. Some people may need water more than the NFIs that we are giving, so we need to do our assessment.”
Six communities around the island, including Soufriere, have already received immediate relief items. The distribution of relief items to Soufriere was via sea, as there is no road access to the community at this time.
The St Lucia Red Cross is also providing RFL to families. RFL, which the acronym for Restoring Family Links, is a program of the International Red Cross which restores and maintains contact between family members, and clarifies the fate of persons reported missing. Three families have since benefitted from this program including Maureen Winter and her ninety-eight year old mother and an American tourist.
The St Lucia Red Cross will conduct its operations in the emergency relief mode until its plan of action is completed and approved.