Death in Paradise: Eastern Caribbean Disaster Appeal - 2014

Gus Franklyn-Bute Editor-in-Chief

23 are dead and others remain missing in the Eastern Caribbean islands of St Vincent & The Grenadines, St Lucia and Dominica.

It was no Merry Christmas in paradise for Caribbean islanders and visitors on St Vincent and The Grenadines, St Lucia and Dominica.  While the world outside was in full preparation and heightened excitement on Christmas eve for the imminent holiday season, a powerful trough weather system swept through the tiny Eastern Caribbean islands.  The prolonged rainfall, strong anti-clockwise gales, and intense flooding caused catastrophic landslides, ripping houses apart, shattering bridges, toppling power lines and leaving thousands traumatised, homeless and at risk.

Dominica under water: Courtesy SVG TV

In the St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the public Milton Cato Hospital was flooded with wards under water and patients at further risk.  The current deathtoll are 9 dead in St Vincent and the Grenadines, 5 in Dominica and 8 in St Lucia, with several others still missing.  The number of dead are expected to rise.  Among the victims in this tragic holiday season in St Vincent is 2yrs old Shelani Headley, who had been vacationing from Canada with her mother and three siblings.

Tragedy as flood victim Keslia James body is removed in St Vincent, Courtesy Searchlight Newspaper

St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has said that this is “a disaster of a proportion the likes of which we have not seen in living memory.”  According to online website I-Witness News, Gonsalves stated in a media interview that “it is clear that the capacity of the state, as structured, to respond to a disaster of this magnitude is not at a level where it out to be. There are profound limitations.”

Milton Cata Hospital, St Vincent under flood water, Courtesy SVG TV

Local communities on each of the islands, as well a neighbouring countries like Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados have been sterling in their response to the tragedy, including islanders in the tiny Grenadines island of Bequia, who organised collections of essential supplies – drinking water, food and clothing. The Caribbean Diaspora in the UK, Canada and the US have also mobilised resources, yet the need is so, so great the Eastern Caribbean islands are appealing around the world for further assistane, particularly during this Christmas season of goodwill to all.

Major road damage in St Lucia Road, Courtesy SVG TV

ACU|BIEN kindly ask that as we turn our attention to welcoming the 2014 New Year, the people of St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia and Dominica are in dire need of funds and other assistance to aid the clean up, recovery and rehabilitation.  As we spend time with family and freinds, let us reflect on the loss of lives and suffering; let us pray for those still missing; and consider the extensive damage to the basic human needs of those with less, little or no resources.  We appeal to you, where ever you may be, not just to be sad about this disaster in paradise, but to search your heart and dig deep to assist in any way – no matter how small.

Homes collaspes in Rose Bank, St Vincent, Courtesy SVG TV

There are several ways to give monetary donations, no matter where you are.  Further links are at the end of this message, or please contact us if you need further information about how you can assist.  Some ways to give are as follows:

1. Eastern Caribbean Flood Relief Fund

In collaboration with St. Vincent born recording artist, Kevin Lyttle and his family foundation (Janice Lyttle Foundation) in St. Vincent, a tax exempt Relief Fund (Eastern Caribbean Flood Relief Fund) has been established in the United States to facilitate receipt of financial contributions to support relief efforts through the Red Cross societies of the impacted islands of St. Lucia, Dominica and St. Vincent & Grenadines.

Established in 1967, The Miami Foundation has helped hundreds of people create personal, permanent and powerful legacies by establishing custom, charitable funds. With foundation expertise, Fund holders have fostered the arts, awarded scholarships,championed diversity, taught kids to read, and provided food and shelter for the hungry and homeless. The Miami Foundation allows the Eastern Caribbean Flood Relief Fund to achieve its philanthropic mission and provides strict oversight and accountability of the Fund by the Board of Trustees of the Miami Foundation.

For more information on The Miami Foundation, please visit Financial donations (100% tax deductible) can be made Via Check: Make checks payable to “The Miami Foundation” and include the Fund name “Eastern Caribbean Flood Relief Fund”; Via Credit Card: Direct link; Via Cash Wire Transfer: JPMorgan Private Bank – DE 500 Stanton Christiana Rd Newark, DE 19713 EFT/ACH ABA #267 084 131 Wiring ABA # 021 000 021 Account of: The Miami Foundation Account # 403251668

More details here.

  1. Major destruction in Dominica, Courtesy SVG TV

2. SVG Red Cross

The SVG Red Cross has appealed for monetary donations (All cheques payable to “SVG Red Cross”). All monies will be converted into the following items:

Medical supplies; Mattresses and cots; Blankets, sheets sets- full and queen, pillows and linens; Toiletries- Toothpaste, Soap, Toothbrushes, Deodorant, Toilet Paper, Paper Towels; Bath Towels; Diapers- adult and baby; Bottled Water; Mops, Buckets, Washing powder, soap powder, disinfectants etc.

For more information you may SVG Red Cross may be reached at (784-456-1888, please ask for Mrs. George or Ms. Creese. If you consider that it may be cheaper to buy and send the listed items above, please do so, and contact the SVG Red Cross directly. ANY and ALL support is very welcomed.

3. Action Bequia: Action Speaks Louder than Word

Action Bequia is continuing to raise funds in support of the victims of the December Floods. They have set up an online donation which is a quick and efficient way to get much needed relief to those in need. They can accept funds by Paypal and all major Credit Cards.

Visit under the heading “Donations. Go to the “dropdown box” and click “How To Donate“.  Choosing “One time Donation” on the final page you may selection “St Vincent 2013 Flood Relief” as the target for your donation. ‪#‎RISEUPSVG

THANK YOU. It means so much to those in genuine need.  ACU|BIEN appreciate your help and the efforts of those on the ground who are making a difference.

Power of weather system as rivers rise and lives are in danger in St Lucia, Courtesy SVG TV

Once we have further information on further ways to give in the UK and Canada we will keep you posted.  In the meantime, you may follow the progress reports on the following sites:

RedCrossSVG Red Cross Facebook page
SVG TV Facebook page
I-Witness News Online