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Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, speaking at a news conference in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl. (CMC Photo)

Grenada ‘mobilised within the region’ as Hurricane Beryl nears

July 1, 2024

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC – Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell says he expects his Caribbean Community (CARICOM) colleagues to come to the assistance of Grenada should Hurricane Beryl hit the country later on Monday as it makes its way through the Lesser Antilles.

Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines appear to be the two CARICOM countries now in focus as the hurricane, the first named for the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane season churns its way towards the region packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (mph) and a forward speed of 20 mph.

“I have been in constant communication with my colleagues within the CARICOM region at the political level…into the wee hours of this morning. So they are on standby to provide any assistance that is required, whether it be relief aid, whether it be water, whether it be support for security and safety,” Mitchell told reporters during a virtual news conference on Monday..

Mitchell said that the local national disaster office has been in “constant” communication with the Barbados based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

“We already short listed potential relief things that we may need if it gets to that. I spoke with Prime Minister (Dr. Ralph) Gonsalves in St. Vincent a short while ago, we are essentially both in the same predicament. It might seem to be a question of degree whether it is Grenada or St. Vincent gets more of the brunt of the hurricane.

“We are all mobilised within the region. I think my colleagues are all standing in solidarity with the people of Grenada because  in one way or the other, they too have all experienced devastation caused by strong hurricanes.”

Mitchell, who was due to become the chairman of the 15-member regional integration grouping on Wednesday during the CARICOM summit, that has since been postponed to a date to be announced, said he had also spoken with the outgoing CARICOM chairman, Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali on the situation.

“We discussed support security services if it becomes necessary…and so he is on standby  and his Commissioner of Police is in contact with our Commissioner of Police.

“Guyana is the outgoing chair of CARICOM and we expect that any assistance that we ask for and it is in a position to render it will do so.”

Mitchell told reporters that on the issue of lifting the state of emergency (SOE) that had been announced on Sunday, following the passage of the hurricane, would be dependent on a number of factors.

“We can’t give a definitive answer at this time as to how soon after the storm passes that the restrictions on liberties on people will be lifted,” he said, adding that one of the key things Grenada learnt from the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, is that “in many instances if we do not control the movement of people in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, it actually sets back our recovery.

“We do not want people attempting to clear cables or any lines from utility companies, whether they be telephone or electricity, particularly for electricity it is likely to be very dangerous and in the case of telecommunications …even though the cable may be on the ground, it is unlikely that the cable would be broken.”

Mitchell said he has been told by cable companies that even if the line is on the ground and not broken, it would be easier to fix and quicken the time period for Grenadians being able to communicate with the outside world and their relatives and friends.

He said that would require the restriction of people’s movements and give the emergency services “ample opportunity to try and clean…as quickly as possible”.

Mitchell said he has also been in contact with other governments regarding possible relief should he island be hit by the storm.

The government also announced that thousands of Grenadians have chosen to stay at emergency shelters. There are more than 100 shelters scattered throughout the island.

“We have approximately 3,000 persons at shelters, which is a mammoth undertaking,” said Prime Minister Mitchell, promising that the state will do everything to keep them safe and secure.

“With God’s blessing we hope the damage will be minimal.  It is absolutely critical that we remain indoors, that we hunker down, that we find the safest places within our homes, within the shelters, within wherever you are to try and remain safe,” he said, calling on citizens to remain in their bathroom if their homes are damage or destroy and there is no other options for safety during the hurricane.

“If everything else fails and your bathroom is still standing we ask you to stay there until you are given the all clear, because we expect significant rainfall from the hurricane passing over us it is important that we minimise going outside,” he said as he reminds citizens that wind strength will be more than 115 miles per hour because Hurricane Beryl is wobbling between a category 3 and 4 hurricane.

Head of the National Disaster Management Agency, (NaDAMA),Terrence Walters, said that following the passing of the hurricane people should not venture outside.

“Please remain inside until the all clear is given…this is a dangerous category four hurricane that can have significant impact,” he said.

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