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Weather Statement #2

Ladies and Gentlemen Good evening

When we spoke yesterday Saturday, I promised that I would update you on the weather system threatening our island. As of 2 PM today Hurricane Beryl had intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 4 Hurricane.

The centre of the system was located 367 miles east of Saint Lucia with winds gusting at 135miles per hour. These conditions set the stage for potential hurricane storm force winds. A hurricane warning has been issued by the Saint Lucia Met Office with Hurricane Beryl expected to arrive on Sunday night and peak on Monday morning, lasting throughout the day.

Hurricane Beryl is being described by forecasters as “extremely dangerous” and could cause “potentially catastrophic” damage from high winds with life-threatening storm surges as high as 16 feet above normal tide levels”. Residents in low lying areas and along the coasts should take extra precautions. Fishermen should secure their vessels and livestock owners should make the necessary arrangements to safeguard their animals.

Earlier today, I chaired a Pre-Strike committee meeting with NEMAC to continue our preparations and assessments of Saint Lucia’s preparedness. I have received assurances from major response agencies regarding their preparedness for this eventuality.

Our foremost priority as a government is the safety and wellbeing of every citizen. I urge all 18 District Disaster Management Committees across the island to follow all protocols established by NEMO. Your participation is crucial in ensuring that our communities remain safe. I can confirm that all these district committees have held their pre-strike meetings and have been on the ground in their respective communities.

The major response agencies reported at the Pre-Strike Meeting today that our hospitals and health facilities have activated their disaster management plans in order to continue treating in house patients and any injuries that may occur during the passage of this Hurricane.

Most shelters are ready to respond to any evacuation needs and will be activated after instructions from NEMO. If you believe that your home can be easily compromised due to heavy rainfall and strong winds expected from this system, we encourage you to seek shelter with family and loved ones as soon as possible. At this time, our sense of community is being called upon, particularly to assist the most vulnerable. I urge you to lend a helping hand where possible if it becomes necessary.

Temporary housing has been activated for the homeless at the Vigie Sports Complex and their transfer to the facility is currently ongoing by the Castries Constituency Council and the Ministry of Equity.

All other state agencies including the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, the Saint Lucia Fire Services, SLASPA, the Ministry of Infrastructure and all other first responders are on high alert and stand ready to act if and when the need arises.

Discussions with the Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Authority (SLHTA) have indicated the readiness of its membership to deal with visitors currently on island.

Our national infrastructure, water, electricity and telecommunications, are at risk of being compromised but providers have indicated that they are ready to respond in the aftermath.

It is not too late to review your family disaster plans. Your household appliances are at risk of being damaged, please secure them. Medication and all vital records should have been stored and your emergency plan communicated to members of your family and loved ones. Water, food supplies and sanitary items should all be properly secured.  I continue to stress the importance of being prepared during this time and urge you to follow the guidance provided by NEMO and the Met Office.

Remember a National Shutdown is scheduled for 8:30 tonight. Businesses and schools will remain closed tomorrow Monday, until the all-clear is given. I urge residents to remain indoors to allow first-responders to conduct preliminary assessments before the all clear is given.

Fellow residents, the possibility of this extreme weather event will test our resolve as a people, and the true spirit of our nation. It is at this time that our compassion, generosity and love as a people must be extended to one another, particularly to the vulnerable. As we prepare to weather the approaching storm, there are many things that we have no control over. But, what we can control, is reaffirming our concern for one another, our courage, our compassion, and our disaster preparedness.

Together we will navigate these challenging times. Let us pray to the Almighty that Saint Lucia will be spared the worse. 

I thank you.

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