Wednesday, April 17, 2024

UPDATE: After Hurricane Elsa Press Conference


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Prime Minister Mia Mottley hosts a press conference at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

  • Still very early in the data gathering. We are lucky, it could be far worse.
  • Hurricane Else has brought dislocation, anxiety and horror to many Barbadians.
  • We must give thanks that there was no reported evidence of anyone losing their life or serious injury.
  • Return of utilities is not a three-day or five-day exercise
  • This will require patience, no electricity, water pressure low
  • Over 1 100 houses affected between hurricane and freak storms
  • Collapsed houses will be rebuilt immediately through UDC, RDC and NHC
  • Houses needing repairs will require assessment by Department of Emergency Management
  • 289 need temporary accommodation right now
  • Checking with tourism sector for apartment hotels that are available
  • 40 apartments and 13 rooms in tourism sector, plus BWU Labour College 20 rooms, Spiritual Baptists 16 apartments
  • Bank account will be opened for charitable donations
  • Government will work with select civil organisations to receive non-monetary donations
  • Register for labourers and artisans will be set up for repairs
  • Free public education programme about how to build more secure will be rolled out
  • Country has been tested – COVID-19, ashfall and now hurricane
  • It is the challenge of a generation, and we must embrace it to build forward better for our children and grandchildren
  • Empathy and care; must be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper; it is the quality of relationship in families, communities and among friends that has made the difference from each of these disasters (i.e., COVID, ashfall, hurricane)
  • This is the most significant damage I have seen in 30 years of political life

Director of Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds

  • As at 5 p.m., 1 178 reports of damage, including two instances of flooding, seven of water damage, 13 of impassable roads, 15 electricity, 15 roof leaks, 60 fallen poles, 62 house collapses, 85 fallen trees, 89 damaged houses, 743 damaged roofs, 87 other types of damage.
  • Based on parish, most damage in St Michael, Christ Church, St George and St Philip and account for most of the overall damage reports.

General Manager of Barbados Water Authority, Keithroy Halliday

  • Last two days not as difficult as expected
  • 33 per cent of our facilities are in place, but production is at 86 per cent
  • Challenges with distribution system in various places
  • To get online will need a few more hours or a couple of days
  • 15 tankers are out; other tankers are coming into operation over the next few days
  • 170 community tanks have been topped up and available
  • As distribution is recharged, there will be additional breakages and bursts; expect to have them fixed by end of tomorrow
  • For WhatsApp voice, video and text, send to: 836-4655 or 836-4683

Minister of Transport, Works & Water Resources, Ian Gooding-Edghill

  • 3 to 5 days to get full water pumping capacity across the island
  • Ionics system is back up and running
  • Sanitisation of new water tankers is ongoing
  • Water tankers will be deployed day and night
  • MTW workers clearing major roads
  • Ash workers going into communities to help with clean-up
  • Drainage department put in place detention and retention ponds and swales and that helped to prevent excessive flooding

Marilyn Sealy, FLOW

  • Major test of our telecom’s infrastructure
  • We were able to keep network up during passage of Elsa
  • A lot of customers turned to mobile to stay connected
  • Fixed network is stable, but 39 cell sites are off air in St George, St Philip and St Michael because of power outages
  • Only four poles down

Roger Sargeant, Digicel

  • 20 of 98 sites are offline island-wide

Cheryl Bennett-Inniss, Chief Technical Officer, MTW

  • Try to make roadways passable
  • Travel slowly and carefully, especially at night, because not all roadways have been cleared
  • 50 gullies and waterways cleared last year, so we were fortunate

Minister of Housing William Duguid 

  • Urban Development Corporation, Urban Development, National Housing Corporation (NHC) will start rebuilding work
  • We will be using roof straps and strapping houses to the foundation
  • The material will be provided through the NHC for repairs
  • It is a mammoth task

Minister of Tourism and International Transport Lisa Cummins

  • Grantley Adams International Airport withstood hurricane well
  • Water damage in one area resulted in an electrical fire and took power down and compromised ability to open once all-clear was given
  • Power out at nine satellite facilities around the island needed to guide flights back into the island
  • Three of nine sites are back up; others will be back within the coming hours
  • Airport expected to be opened at 11 a.m.

Minister of People’s Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde

  • Individual households are looking for help
  • It is our duty as a caring government to provide for people that were affected by the hurricane
  • Looking for alternative accommodation for many displaced people; government will foot bill for rent

Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw

  • No school on Monday and Tuesday
  • Classes will resume on Wednesday and Thursday, where possible.
  • In discussion with CXC about CAPE and CSEC exams.
  • No structural damage to about 50 per cent of school facilities
  • Most schools impacted by fallen trees and fallen power lines
  • Many principals impacted by loss of electricity and telecoms, so reports are slow to come in



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