Several Caricom institutions led by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) have moved into member states ravaged by Hurricane Irma to conduct rapid needs assessments to aid in recovery and rebuilding.
CDEMA’s actions preceded and followed its Executive Director Ronald Jackson’s address to the Fifth Special Emergency Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom held on Saturday on Caricom’s coordinated response to all the countries affected by Irma.
Immediate needs identified for the worst affected member States particularly Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Anguilla include water, food items, materials to aid in providing temporary shelter such as plywood and tarpaulins and especially cash to purchase items to help with the cost of immediate recovery effort.
At the time, an evacuation of Barbuda was well advanced due to the potential impact of Hurricane Jose. Jose no longer poses a threat to Barbuda.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert reported that Trinidad and Tobago was making arrangements to ensure the safety of its nationals which may include evacuation from the BVI and St Maarten, both of which were devastated by the passage of Irma which at the time was a Category 5 Hurricane.
Last week, CDEMA activated its Regional Response Mechanism which coordinates relief action and includes regional institutions, international agencies, and representatives from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
Other Caricom agencies that went into action following the passage of Hurricane Irma were the Regional Security System, Caribbean Public Health Agency, Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, and Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security.
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister said that the gravity of the situation was evidenced by the strong representation by Heads of Government and other high-level participation at the meeting by members and associate members of Caricom.
The heads expressed concern about the long term psychological effects of the situation given the serious dislocation and sense of loss of the populations of the affected countries. They noted the economic vulnerability of the region given the cost of recovery and the impact on economic activity of affected countries.
They mandated the Caricom Secretariat and the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States to continue working with CDEMA to coordinate recovery efforts.