Prime Minister Portia Simpson has pledged Jamaica's support to its neighbours in sections of the Eastern Caribbean, after heavy rains led to several deaths, flooding and destruction of property on the eve of Christmas.
The Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) said yesterday that initial reports numbered the dead at around a dozen, with massive infrastructure damage in the most affected islands - St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica. Electricity and other services were being gradually restored to parts of St Lucia less than 24 hours after the heavy rains.
Simpson Miller said the effect of the floods was heightened in light of its timing during the holidays, as families had gathered to celebrate the season of goodwill.
"Please accept my best wishes and the support of the Government and people of Jamaica as you commence the daunting task of clean-up, rehabilitation and reconstruction," she said in a statement yesterday.
St Lucia Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony told nationals he could not "recall when we have had such heavy rainfall on the eve of Christmas".
The St Lucia Air and Sea Ports said that the Hewanorra International Airport, south of the capital, Castries, remained closed and that crews were working tirelessly to have the airport reopened as soon as possible. The St Lucia Electricity Services Limited also reported it had restored power to "nearly all areas that had been affected by outages resulting from the heavy rains and severe lightning".
Communities cut off
In St Vincent and the Grenadines, several communities remained cut off as residents continued to count their human and material losses.
CMC reported the Buccament area, north of the capital Kingstown, was one of the worst affected.
Help was yesterday on the way for victims of the flooding caused by the heavy rains.
Various regional media entities reported that Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said her government was ready to assist.
Persad-Bissessar is the current chairman of the Caribbean Community.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said he would contact other agencies within the Inter-American system to mobilise a hemispheric response to the debilitating effects of what is becoming known as the Christmas Day rains.
Commenting on the situation, Insulza stated: "This is very bad news, even more that it has occurred on Christmas Day. The unseasonable nature of the heavy rains and flooding raises once again the impact of climate change in the Caribbean region."
He further expressed, on behalf of the OAS, his condolences to the governments and peoples of the affected countries on their loss and assured them that the organisation stood in solidarity with them at this very difficult time.
With at least 12 persons believed to be dead and others reported missing, a final death toll was yet to be determined.