St. Lucia prime minister: $500 million to rebuild, water a concern

St. Lucia Prime Minister Stephenson King says it will cost $500 million to rebuild the country after it was slammed by Hurricane Tomas last weekend, Trinidad & Tobago’s Newsday reported Saturday. And while many areas of the country are doing well, he projected that it would take a year to finish reconstruction in some hard-hit areas, such as Soufriere in the South (see photo of the littered beach there at right). St. Lucia’s Radio 100 Helen has put out a call for islanders to help each other by supplying food, water and household supplies and hosted a fund-raising telethon.

The Trinidad and Tobago prime minister toured St. Lucia and is sending some aid. King said Tomas damaged St. Lucia’s agricultural sector — including banana harvesting — which could lead to a food shortage. He said northern and southern parts of the island were separated because of toppled bridges and blocked road. The main concern is drinking water, since dams and water plants were danaged. Some residents are drinking rainwater.

According the newspaper, King said: “We have not been able to produce the capacity of water that we need, particularly in the north of the country. The main dam which is our main source of water produces eight million gallons a day. The north of the island is the main tourist belt, so a tremendous amount of water is used. We have not been able to reinstate it. There is a lot of help that has come, including from the U.S. Armed Forces, to try and reactivate the system. When we get that going, we would be able to produce at least three million gallons a day,” he said. Many resorts have their own water systems.

As would be expected, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board is much more upbeat. In a Friday release, it congratulated the country’s power provider for restoring electricity to about 95% of the island.

“Saint Lucia’s hotels and resorts are not only world-class in beauty and service; they are also resilient and many of them are ready to welcome visitors this weekend,” the statement said.

It said airlines including JetBlue, American and British Airways were set to return to the island this weekend and that LIAT airline’s’s emergency air bridge between Hewanorra airport in the south and George F.L. Charles airport in the north will remain in place for another week due to blocked roads.

As for how people can help St. Lucia, the government has set up bank accounts to receive foreign funds. Here’s a link to the site. St. Lucia’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) also lists bank accounts. And a St. Lucia Facebook page is collecting news and comments.

Readers, do you have further updates? Can anyone provide on-site reports? Islanders and tourists posting here and elsewhere wonder why so little attention is being paid to St. Lucia, a popular vacation and honeymoon spot and seen in the finale of TV’s popular The Bachelorette?

Copyright 2010


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