Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rising sea level threatens Caribbean resorts

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Rising sea levels caused by climate change are set to cause damage of billions of dollars to the islands states of the Caribbean by the middle of the century, including wiping out more than 300 premium tourist resorts, a remarkable new report suggested yesterday.

Airports, power plants, roads and agricultural land in low-lying areas, as well as prime tourist locations on islands from Bermuda to Barbados, and from St Kitts and Nevis to St Vincent and the Grenadines, will be all be lost or severely damaged, with dire implications for national economies and for the welfare of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people, according to the report.

Released yesterday at the UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, the report paints an astonishing picture of West Indies-wide devastation caused in the decades to come by rising seas. Sea levels mount in association with global warming because warming water expands in volume, and melting ice from land-based ice sheets and glaciers adds to the rise.

The report suggests that, just for the 15 mainly English-speaking Caribbean nations which make up the Caricom (Caribbean Community) regional grouping, the cost of the damage and necessary rebuilding caused by sea-level rise could by 2080 have reached a staggering $187bn (£120bn).

It suggests that, with a sea-level rise of one metre, which is now regarded as highly likely by the end of the century, the Caribbean would see "at least 149 multi-million dollar tourism resorts damaged or lost" and would also see loss or damage of 21 of the Caricom airports, and the inundation of land surrounding 35 of the region's 44 ports.

With a two-metre sea-level rise, by no means impossible, there would be "at least 233 multi-million dollar tourism resorts lost" plus damage or loss of nine power plants, 31 airports, and the loss of 710km of roads. However, when a more sophisticated analysis was done on the impacts of erosion caused by rising seas, it was found that the damage leapt upwards, as one metre of sea level rise on low-lying coasts gives between 50 and 100 metres of erosion. A one-metre rise with erosion factored in would result in "at least 307 multi-million dollar tourism resorts damaged or lost," the report says.

Commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme, the UK's Department for International Development and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, the report has been produced by Caribsave, a partnership between the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the University of Oxford.

Led by Dr Murray Simpson, a senior research associate in the university's Centre for the Environment, it is thought to be the most detailed study every made of the potential impacts across a whole region from rising seas, and is unusual in that it has been carried out not only by scientists but also by insurance experts, who have calculated the huge potential costs of the likely damage. Its findings were presented at an Oxford conference a fortnight ago to representatives of the Association of Small Island States (Aosis), the grouping of 43 island nations who feel themselves to be acutely at risk from climate change.

The findings cause alarm, and have helped to prompt a demand at the Cancun conference from the Aosis nations for a giant new insurance scheme, funded by developed countries, which would pay compensation for catastrophic loss to small states caused by sea-level rise and extreme climate-related events.

Leaders of the grouping spoke eloquently of the threat to them yesterday. "We are the most vulnerable countries in the world, although we pollute the least," said Antonio Lima, Ambassador from the Cape Verde Islands to the UN.

Risks to the islands...

The Bahamas

With a combination of sea-level rise and storm surge, 22 per cent of the population is at risk of flooding. Annual costs to the Bahamas GDP will predominately be tourism losses of between US$869m and $946m in 2050 and $2.2bn and US $2.6bn in 2080.


The impacts on Barbados are dominated by losses to tourism both through rebuilding costs and loss of amenities. Losses are projected to amount to between $283m and $368m in 2050.

Antigua and Barbuda

Two per cent of land lost with one-metre sea level rise, five per cent with two metres; 12 per cent of population, and all airports, at risk from flooding, which threatens 50 per cent of resorts.

Garifuna Gala

Take a look at the website: http://beinggarifuna.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/teofilo-colon-jr-award-acceptance-speech-to-attendees-of-the-2010-garifuna-coalition-yellow-white-and-black-gunchei-fundraiser-gala/#more-3573

There are photos of the gala and the text of Teofilo Colon Jr.'s speech

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A local wild orchid that blooms for a day or two a couple of times a year. Here it is growing on the bark of a tree



(L to R) Lucy, Zeus, Polly

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sir Edwin Carrington on Tomas Response

Date: 25 Nov 2010

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) CARICOM Secretary-General His Excellency Sir Edwin Carrington has praised the preparedness, resilience and resourcefulness of the peoples of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia which allowed the two CARICOM Member States to regroup within days after a hurricane swept through the islands, leaving in its wake death and destruction.

He lauded what he characterized as a "home-grown" national response that was a measure of the islands' preparedness and resourcefulness.

However, he has cautioned that the Region must be prepared for such eventualities since it was not a matter of if, but when natural disasters would strike.

"We must ensure we have the capacity to deal with disaster. It will come; it is not a question of `if'. Disaster is a part of our very existence and we must mainstream it in our activities," the Secretary-General said.

The Secretary-General visited the two islands Monday and Tuesday to get a first-hand look at the damage Hurricane Tomas wrought and to consider ways in which the Community could render assistance. He was accompanied by Chef de Cabinet in the Office of the Secretary-General, Ms Glenda Itiaba, and Head of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Agency (CDEMA), Mr. Jeremy Collymore.

Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, and the Hon. Stephenson King, Prime Ministers of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia, respectively, both briefed the Secretary-General on the steps their administrations were taking to rebound from the disaster.

According to Prime Minister King, the strength of the integration movement was evident in times like these when the Community banded together. Describing the visit as timely, the Prime Minister said the Secretary-General could undertake the role of coordinator/facilitator to galvanise regional support for the level of assistance that was necessary for reconstruction. He also sought support for the mobilization of the Diaspora.

Moving around both Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Castries, Saint Lucia, there was not much evidence of the damage left by the hurricane. But inland, the evidence was graphic. Twenty-four hours of continuous rain caused floods, land- and mudslides in Saint Lucia that resulted in deaths, toppled homes and trees, blocked major arteries and re-routed waterways.

The entire banana industry of both countries was destroyed and other crops were also decimated. Estimates have pegged recovery of the agriculture sector of the countries at between six to nine months.

In recognition of the pivotal role agriculture played in their economies, both countries have begun assistance to farmers, including the distribution of fertilizer and urea to those in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a proposal for income support to be presented shortly. An initial US$3M has been identified for farmers in Saint Lucia, whose breadbasket – the town of Soufriere – was severely affected by Hurricane Tomas.

With regard to shelter the number of persons in shelters in St Vincent and the Grenadines was greatly reduced, and more than 600 workers throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines were repairing homes. Prime Minister Gonsalves said and there was a feeding programme ongoing for about 1 500 persons who still needed support. While the electricity supply has been restored to 98 per cent of homes, electricity and water was expected to be fully restored island-wide in a matter of days.

In Soufriere, heavy duty equipment was clearing land in one area to accommodate tents for those persons who had been displaced by the storm, while in another section of the town, bulldozers and trucks were clearing mud and debris from blocked roadways. The government of Saint Lucia was providing some assistance to help persons to rebuild their homes, and has also approached Member States for assistance with pre-fabricated housing.

"It's a task on our hands but we're up to it," Prime Minister King said of the recovery effort.

CONTACT: piu@caricom.org

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Caricom Secretary-General VIsits SVG

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) CARICOM Secretary-General His Excellency Sir Edwin Carrington will visit St Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia next week where he will have a first-hand view of the damage wrought by Hurricane Tomas.

While there he will discuss ways in which the Community and the Secretariat could assist in the aftermath of the storm. The team will visit St Vincent and the Grenadines on Monday 22 November and Saint Lucia the following day. They will have discussions with the Prime Ministers of both countries, Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves and the Hon Stephenson King respectively.

The Secretary-General will be accompanied by Ms. Glenda Itiaba, Chef de Cabinet, Office of the Secretary-General, and Mr. Jeremy Collymore, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Hurricane Tomas swept through the Caribbean three weeks ago and caused extensive damage in particular to the agriculture industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and left at least 14 dead amid widespread destruction in Saint Lucia.

CONTACT: piu@caricom.org‚

Monday, November 22, 2010


It isn't that I'm not aware that there are elections coming up, but I'm not going to post any election-oriented items on this blog. I don't want to post some of the news clippings that are nasty, bad tempered, or insulting. On the other hand if I only post some clips but not all of them I could be accused of being partisan, and since I'm a permanent resident but not a citizen I don't vote and thus being partisan would have no point.

So I'm simply not going to post anything political. There's plenty of other stuff, as you see.


This is a new, very nicely done blog at http://discoversvg.blogspot.com/

It has brief descriptions of visits to sites on St. Vincent and the Grenadines nicely illustrated with photos.

I presume it is connected with the SVG Tourism site at http://discoversvg.com that is published by the tourism department.

It relieves me, because I have been feeling guilty about not visiting some of these sites with my camera. I may still do that, and I'll certainly visit some sites that the tourism department isn't likely to go, but I'll feel less guilty about not doing all the visits I intended to

Congratulations to SVG for an excellent job.

Just to remind you, there are SVG photos from previous years, thousands of them, on the "Karlek" page on Flickr

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Garifuna Cultural Legacy: Alive And Well

Wed, November 17, 2010
"We Continue to have many Aspirations; In Unity We Advance" is the theme under which this year's Garifuna Settlement Day is being celebrated. This observance spans over a two-week period and includes the selection of Ms. Garifuna 2010, drumming, dancing and re-enactments.

And while all things Garifuna dominate Belize's polyglot cultural spectrum, what about the next generation? Well judging from what our team saw at Christ the King Anglican School in Dangriga this morning, the Garifuna cultural legacy is in good hands:

Andrea Polanco Reporting
Today in the Culture Capital, Dangriga, we got a preview of what the town will be like in the next two days. Leading up to the 19th, Garifuna Settlement Day, Christ the King Anglican held its Annual Garinagu Open Day which started out with the traditional "Yurumei" which is the re-enactment of the arrival of the Garinagu to Belize:

Francine Lucas, Teacher
"What he said this morning Andrea was the re-enactment of the arrival of the Garinagu, it all started from St. Vincent when they were driven away from there, so were left on the island of Bali Sol where they died because the place was mountainous and nothing could be grown there and others travel on, some ended up in Honduras, Nicaragua and the rest came to Belize. When they came to Belize they found one Thomas Vincent Ramos who negotiated with the governor at that time that we get this day 19th of November as a day set aside for the Garinagu."

Andrea Polanco
"That was a very long journey. How did they survive along the way?"

Francine Lucas, Teacher
"I suppose they brought along their food stuff, if you notice they brought culture along with them and with culture you have the language, the clothing, the food, everything that goes along with it. They brought their food stuff so as soon as they got here they were ready to farm and they were ready to fish."

Andrea Polanco
"So when they came in this morning they were singing some beautiful Garifuna songs. Tell me what's the significance of some of these songs?"

Francine Lucas, Teacher
"Oh, that song that you heard, it's a song explaining just came from St. Vincent, we are here from St. Vincent, the land of our ancestors."

And since they left St Vincent the culture and traditions continue to live on but to make sure that they do, events like these help to keep it alive:

Carol Brackett Young, Principal
"We are in the Garifuna belt and for our children to be better educated knowledgeable of the customs and practices of the Garifuna we decided to showcase it so that they can learn it from home and then take it out because we call school home."

Andrea Polanco
"I know Garifuna Settlement Day is highly anticipated across but particularly in Dangriga, dub the cultural capital of the country, is this event that the school children look forward to with as much anticipation?"

Carol Brackett Young, Principal
"Yes they do and this had been our 4th annual Garifuna open day that we have had."

This long anticipated Annual Garinagu Open Day is the fruit of planning and presentation by teachers and students since August. But the work paid off as the presentations highlighted the Garinagu Culture at its best:

Carol Brackett Young, Principal
"Each class has a presentation to do, infant 1 was doing dance and music; infant 2, customs and beliefs of the Garifuna, Standard 1; clothing, standard 2; artifacts. well this years has been one of the greatest for us because the 1st year we just had it at a local level, we invited just the 2 neighboring schools and this year we have guest artists as you have seen, we have the children doing different performances, we have our school choir, our school band, so we have it much more greater this year."
And it was certainly great as some of Dangriga's very own artistes entertained by some of Dangriga's very own Garifuna artists:

And you know, if you don't get to see some Punta then your're not in Dangriga.
"From North to South, East to West, Stann Creek wish the whole entire Belize a happy and wonderful Garifuna Settlement Day."

"Happy Garifuna Settlement Day Belize."

Christ the King Anglican Primary will also be participating in other Garifuna Settlement Day activities in Dangriga.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Welectricity Wins Award

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Wednesday November 17, 2010 – Welectricity, a social network created in St Vincent and that Grenadines, that helps users track and reduce their electricity consumption at home, has been named by General Electric (GE) as one of the 10 award-winners of their global Ecomagination Smart Grid Challenge.
At an award ceremony held yesterday in New York City, GE named five US$100,000 innovation award winners, an additional five US$10,000 consumer innovation award winners and announced 12 business partnerships that will attract a total venture capital investment of $55 million. Other venture partnerships, up to a total investment of US$200 million, are planned to be announced by GE over the next year and a half.
Welectricity, the brainchild of Vincentian energy consultant Herbert Samuel, won a consumer innovation award for “Best Idea for the Millennial”.
Welectricity, a free web application (at www.welectricity.com) that allows users to track and reduce their electricity consumption at home, was launched on April 22nd and in seven months had registered users from over 60 countries worldwide.
A key feature of Welectricity is that it is a low-carbon solution that only requires access to an internet-connected computer and some information from existing utility bills. No smart meters or other in-house monitoring devices need to be manufactured, packaged, shipped, purchased and installed for Welectricity to work. 
“After all,” Welectricity’s blog notes, “what’s the point of using a whole lot of energy and carbon emissions to bring you a bunch of new stuff that’s meant to help you use less energy and emit less carbon?”
The Ecomagination Challenge, a global competition to find and fund the world’s best ideas to power the 21st century smart grid, was launched by GE on July 13th and attracted almost 4,000 ideas from more than 150 countries.  
The challenge is GE’s commitment to developing an innovative, global clean energy future and is backed by a US$200 million fund, in collaboration with leading venture capital firms RockPort Capital, KPCB, Foundation Capital, and Emerald Technology Ventures.  

Supplies Coming

The Jummetor in Rio Bueno base in Trelawny.

Mark Titus, Business Reporter

Tank-Weld Metals has landed a US$2-million contract to supply storm-ravaged St Vincent and the Grenadines with an assortment of construction materials to be used in the repair of some 350 damaged homes.
The Vincentians, whose agricultural sector also suffered extensive damage amounting to an estimated EC$67 million, will receive a mix of steel, cement, roofing and lumber from the Bicknell family-run firm, to be supplied under a credit arrangement.

"The deal with the Ralph Gonsalves-led administration is an interest-free credit arrangement, but it is in line with our vision, and is certainly the kind of impact we are seeking to have throughout the region," Chris Bicknell, chief executive officer of the Seaward Drive-headquartered operation told Wednesday Business on Monday.
"We have done small deliveries to the Cayman Islands and we are looking at Haiti and other countries in the Eastern Caribbean, but we can only do it feasibly if it's a full cargo," he said. "This is our first full delivery," he said, referring to the St Vincent shipment. The Jummetor, Tank-Weld's cargo vessel, left port from its Rio Bueno base in Trelawny on Monday and is expected to arrive in Kingstown tomorrow.

The contract with the Gonsalves administration is worth under J$172 million, but there are indications that Tank-Weld expects to do additional business in that country, though Bicknell would not say precisely what his company is planning. "It took a hurricane to kick it off, but we intend to build on this," he said. Tank-Weld has been the leaders in the steel industry over the years, controlling over 70 per cent market share, but expanded into cement and lumber after the completion of its Rio Bueno facility in 2008, developed at a cost close to US$50 million.
Tank-Weld began importing and distributing lumber in September 2008 and cement in May 2009.

The company now claims 50 per cent share of the local lumber market, with its chief supplies coming from the mills of Mobil, Alabama, Brazil and Honduras; but Bicknell was unwilling to reveal the revenue generated from those sales. Tank-Weld, which distributes imported cement under a 10-year arrangement with American company Vulcan Materials, says it controls under 10 per cent of that market, but needs a 15 per cent share to remain profitable.


Aunt Jobe's--Arnos Vale

Aunt Jobe's has opened another store. It is in Arnos Vale near the roundabout at the north end of the airport.

Like the original Aunt Jobe's on the Leeward side of Kingstown it has more U.S. imported items than the other grocery stores, which tend to be pricier. But depending on what you are looking for that may be more than balanced by the variety and quality.


The 7th lecture in the Girls' High School Centenary Lecture Series
takes place Thursday, November 18, 2010.
The Lecture is: Dedicated to Acting Headmistresses of GHS
The featured speaker is: Dr. Camille Nicholls
The host is: Janelle Allen
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Place: Frenches House

For those in the diaspora the lecture will be carried live on NBC.
Click on nbc.
Scroll down and at right click on "Listen NBC Radio Live."
I am also circulating an appeal for financial contributions for the GHS Centennial Magazine.
Proceeds from the magazine will benefit the school.
All contributions are much appreciated.

Subject: An appeal for our GHS Centenary Magazine
From: lynieg@gmail.com
Hi folks,
As I think you may have heard, we are trying to produce a magazine for the GHS Centenary, and the plan was to cover the cost of producing the magazine by contributions by GHS Past and present students.  The estimated cost is EC$25,000,so we proposed that if 250 students contributed EC$100. (approx. US$40.), we would have covered it without the greater part of the magazine being ads, and of course soliciting the same commercial sector that everyone else is tackling in this tight economy.
Considering the thousands of students and teachers that have passed through the portals, I thought we would have achieved our goal by now, so I have decided to do my part by begging those with whom I am in contact to please make a contribution.  I know that things are tight globally, but I am suggesting that some of you can put together to make the contribution (sisters, family members, class buddies contributions in memory of those who are no longer with us, etc).  We will be most grateful.
A check or postal order to the Girls' High School, would be great.  Address: The Headmistress, Girls' High School, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, West Indies. (leave out the "Kingstown" - save it being sent to Jamaica!!)
Thanks in advance, and I am still hoping that most of you are planning to come to celebrate next year. The celebrations have started out with a bang so far. Please pass on this info to your contacts.

From: carmic@vincysurf.com
Subject: Fwd: GHS Lect 7 -
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2010 18:17:59 -0400
Hi Cheryl,
> Kindly circulate this flyer for GHS Lect 7 to all your list - if you
> can please
> And of course, to as many other friends as possible.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Correction: Garifuna Events

Teofilo Colon Jr to karlek76@gmail.com

Karl Eklund,

Recently, you re-posted some items on Garifuna Events taking place in The United States Of America.  Sadly, I was mistaken regarding one of the Garifuna events.


I just found out that the Garifuna Mass in Chicago for Garifuna Settilement Day that I wrote about is NOT taking place on that date. 

I simply read (and subsequently reposted on BEING GARIFUNA) what I saw on the website of The Garifuna United Foundation. 

What I did NOT know at the time, though, was that the website is a work in progress and that the information posted on that website is SOLELY for the designers of the website at this time--who I am told are board members of The Garifuna United Foundation.   In essence, what's on that website is a sample and a test to familiarize board members with websites/website design and such. 

So Mr Eklund, can you take the Chicago information OFF the Garifuna Events section of your St. Vincent Blog posting?

Teofilo Colon Jr (a.k.a. "Tio Teo")
Founder/Publisher/Editor of the new blog, BEING GARIFUNA
and Recepient of the 2010 Garifuna Coalition Recognition Award



Also, check out the BEING GARIFUNA page on Facebook as well.


Phone:  (347) 385-4034

Election Day will be December 13th

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Monday November 15, 2010 – The St Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament is being dissolved today to pay the way for residents to go to the polls to elect a new government, in the midst of the Yuletide season.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves yesterday announced at a rally of his United Labour Party (ULP) – which will be seeking a third consecutive term in office – that Election Day will be December 13th. Nomination Day is November 26th.

The date was announced a night after Leader of the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Arnhim Eustace said parliament would be dissolved today and elections held on December 15th.

But Prime Minister Gonsalves said his opponent’s predictions were “pathetic”.

“Eustace is engaged in the kind of empty boastfulness reserved for children. Only childish people or those intoxicated with laughable illusion or delusion of grandeur boast vaingloriously about these matters as Eustace did,” he said.
“His (Eustace’s) recklessness last night shows the desperation of a gambler who knows that he has a losing hand. I called his bluff. He must know that I man I hold all the aces. Eustace got all the jokers in the pack,” the Prime Minister added. 

He told supporters that he was confident his ULP administration would be returned to office based on its accomplishments since taking over the government in 2005.


Garifuna Events

Chicago, Illinois -- The Garifuna United Foundation, a Garifuna organization out of Chicago, Illinois will be presenting a Garifuna Mass and Celebration in honor of Garifuna Settlement Day.

Los Angeles, California -- GAHFU Inc, (Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United) presents The Sixth Annual Garifuna Community Forum over at California State University at Northridge.

Garifuna American Inspirational and Motivational Speaker ELLEN SUAZO Releases Book
Brooklyn, New York -- I do not know of any other Garifuna American Motivational or Inspirational Speakers so I figured I could share news regarding one with you.

Posted by:Teofilo Colon Jr.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Garifuna Events

Garifuna Settlement Day Celebration in Los Angeles tomorrow (Nov. 14)

Garifuna-American Singer Bodoma in New Orleans Nov 13-16

ULP Rally Nov. 14


Rally for ULP to be held at Caliaqua on November 14

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kingstown, SVG

by J. Carter

Kingstown is the capital and largest city in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  Kingstown is located on the south western coast of the island of St. Vincent.  The town of about 13,500 hugs Kingstown Bay.  Inland from the Bay are green hills that are dotted with houses.  Kingstown has been described as a “working town” rather than a tourist destination.  Kingstown is a busy port city, but is less popular with tourists.  The island of St. Vincent, in general, has not historically been popular tourist destination.  This may change, however, with the completion of an international airport on the island.

Bay Street, near to Kingstown harbor, contains a few gift shops that are aimed at tourists.  A shopping center, south of Grenadines Wharf, caters to cruise ship passengers.  This shopping center includes a number of shops and restaurants.

 Upper Bay Street is one of the busier parts of town during the day.  Grenadines Wharf is located at the south end of Bay Street.  As the name would suggest, is the staging point for sailing ships and ferries heading to the Grenadines.

Much of Kingstown’s downtown core was built with the stone and brick ballast from ships that came to call on the town’s port.  After unloading their stone and brick ballast, these ships took on local sugar and spices.

Kingstown Produce Market is a sprawling, three-story building that covers an entire city block.  The streets surrounding the building are Upper Bay, Hillsboro and Bedford streets, near the center of town.  The market is open from Monday to Saturday.  It is busiest of Friday and Saturday mornings.  Vendors in the market sell everything from foodstuffs to clothing and crafts.

 Little Tokyo is a waterfront shopping district with an indoor fish market and food stalls.  The name of the district is a reference to the fact that funding for the project was provided by Japan.

There are at least four historic church buildings in Kingstown.  St. George’s Cathedral is an Anglican Church, built in 1820.  This Georgian-style church is located on Grenville Street.  The interior includes austere wooden pews and stained glass windows.  One of the church’s stained glass windows was a gift from Queen Victoria, who originally commissioned it for St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Across the street from St. George’s Cathedral is the Roman Catholic St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Assumption.  Building of the Cathedral began in 1823.  Nearby is the Kingstown Methodist Church, built by former slaves in 1841, soon after emancipation.  Scots Kirk was built by Scottish settlers in the nineteenth century for the local Scottish community.  In 1952 the building was taken over by the Seventh-Day Adventists, who turned it into their church.

One of St. Vincent’s most famous sites is the Botanical Gardens.  This site is just a few minutes drive from downtown Kingstown.  The garden dates from 1765, making it the oldest botanical garden in the Western hemisphere.  Captain Bligh, of the mutiny on the Bounty fame, bought the first breadfruit tree to the island from the South Pacific.  This low maintenance trees produced starchy fruit that was used as a cheap source of food on the island.  The Botanical Gardens are home to the descendants of Captain Bligh’s original tree.  A small aviary houses a few rare St. Vincent parrots.  Guides offer tours of the gardens.

For a fairly small town, Kingstown is packed with interesting sights and historic buildings.


Red Cross Launches Caribbean Emergency Appeal

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a preliminary appeal for 611,470 Swiss francs (USD 622,109 or EUR 446,067) to support the disaster response efforts of the Red Cross societies of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados to assist 1,550 families affected by Hurricane Tomas through a six-month operation.

Earlier this week, Hurricane Tomas struck the Lesser Antilles, affecting approximately 1,900 homes, provoking landslides, interrupting water services for over 30,000 people, and causing infrastructure damage, as well as electricity and communications disruption through the Caribbean Islands of Barbados, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

In addition, there are serious damages in the agriculture and commerce sector, especially in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. “We have already deployed a disaster management delegate that will initiate a detailed assessment process with the three National Red Cross Societies to identify opportunities for early recovery interventions, targeting the restoration of livelihoods and permanent shelter,” said Tanya Wood, the IFRC’s regional representative for the English Caribbean.

The funds raised by this preliminary appeal will support these Red Cross Societies focus on providing an appropriate and timely response in delivering assistance for relief distribution, shelter activities and water distribution the affected families.

“Volunteers and staff from the Red Cross societies of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados have been working diligently since Saturday, through search and rescue efforts and relief distributions. This appeal will ensure support for their work, allowing them to reach the specific needs of those affected by Tomas,” adds Wood.

Kelly Dunst on 11 12, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Party Rally Fuels Election Speculations

By Kenton X. Chance

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent -- Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has especially encouraged supporters of his Unity Labour Party (ULP) to attend a rally this Sunday, fuelling speculations that he might announce the election date then.

General elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines are due by March 2011 but some political observers believe that Vincentians will go to the polls before the end of the year, possibly the first week of December.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves
Gonsalves, speaking at a ULP rally in the Central Leeward town of Layou on Sunday, told supporters to “make an extra effort” to attend the rally in Calliaqua, a town on the south eastern coast

“Next week Sunday, we are going to be in Calliaqua … I want us to turn out in extremely large numbers, bigger than ever, to give Clayton Burgin the support,” Gonsalves said.

Minister of Works Clayton Burgin is vying for a third consecutive term as the parliamentary representative for East St. George.

“Please make an extra effort on Sunday. During the course of this week, you will hear about other things we are doing in relation to operation recovery and reconstruction but I have the opportunity here tonight to urge you for that Sunday meeting,” Gonsalves said.

“We are going to have a significant event on Sunday,” said Edwin Snagg, who chaired the rally, even as he encouraged party supporters to bring along their relatives and friends.

“Operation recovery and reconstruction” is the rubric under which the Gonsalves government is hoping to rebuild the country after the ravages of Hurricane Tomas at the end of October.

Both the ULP and the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) suspended their election rallies last week after the passage of the storm.

The ULP, which is hoping for a third consecutive term in office, returned to the campaign trial on Sunday, amidst suggestions that it should suspend the electioneering for two months.

“There is nothing which says we can’t rebuild our country in unity while we are still engaged in the democratic exercise of campaigning for an election, which would either come later this year or up to the end of March next year,” Gonsalves said.

He said the reconstruction of the country would take more than five months, the constitutional life of the current government.

He said which party is best placed to engage in “operation recovery and reconstruction” will be a major issue of the campaign. .

“You see what we are doing so far and you can make your judgements,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves told party supporters that he wanted a “very serious conversation with you … about the current condition [of] our country, what we are doing, what we will be doing in the next few days and weeks and months”.

He said the storm came while the country was still reeling from the effect of the global financial meltdown.

He said that on the busy highway to progress, the country “does not need a learner, but capable, tried and tested hands at the helm”.

“You do not want to see a vehicle carrying you with an ‘L’ in front of it. It doesn’t matter how much a person has had experience as a civil servant, being a prime minister is an entirely different matter,” he said.

He mentioned the result of the midterm election in the United States where Republicans made strong gains against Barack Obama and the Democrats in the face of rising employment in states such as California and Nevada.

Gonsalves said that Vincentians “have held our own, we are surviving and we are thriving”.

“It is easy for people who don’t have responsibilities to talk. Talk is easy,” he added, saying that every month, he has found the EC$20 million (US$7.4 million) to pay state employees and pensioners.

“And not one single month have I ever missed to pay anybody their salary over the last two years,” he said, adding that this has not been the case in some Caribbean nations.

He further said that school and hospitals have also received their requisite supplies.

“I make these points to tell you that the last two years, given the meltdown which had taken place in the world economy, it has not been an easy thing being prime minister…” he said.

Copyright© 2007-2010 Caribbean News Now! at www.caribbeannewsnow.com All Rights Reserved

Aurelio Releases “Laru Beya”

After a shipwreck crossing the dreaded Middle Passage from West Africa, the human cargo wound up on an island intermingling with local residents, a mixture of Arawak and Carib groups. The resulting hybrid group known as the Garifuna fought British colonizers and were eventually deported en masse, deposited on the Caribbean coast of Central America and left for dead, as young Garifuna musician Aurelio recounts in his song "Yurumei" on his new album Laru Beya (January 18, 2011).

In Aurelio's world, ocean currents flow from Africa past and present, from that long-ago shipwreck and lost island sanctuary, from a world now embracing the threatened sounds of his deeply creative people. Laru Beya is the second release on the label Next Ambiance, an imprint of Sub Pop . The Seattle-based Sub Pop label was the original home to such legendary bands as Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney, and has enjoyed more recent successes with such artists as The Postal Service, The Shins, Iron & Wine, Band of Horses, Flight of the Conchords, and Fleet Foxes.

With the sea as his constant companion, Aurelio makes music that spans tragic history and soulful ceremonies, music sparked by his childhood in an isolated coastal hamlet and channeled to honor his late friend and mentor, Garifuna musical icon, Andy Palacio. Aurelio is the tradition bearer for a unique culture with African, Caribbean Indian, and Latin influences, but also a thoroughly modern artist determined to break new ground for his centuries-old roots.

Aurelio came to love these roots, growing up in a tiny Honduran village far off the beaten track. He learned sacred drumming from family and performed at adults-only ceremonies at age six. Encouraged by a mother with a gorgeous voice and his widely admired troubadour father, the young Aurelio made tin-can guitars. Music was the only entertainment in a place with no electricity and little contact with the outside world.

Aurelio's father was an expert in paranda, a street-friendly, Latin-inflected style that chronicles everything from social ills to humorous tales to aching love, all in a highly improvisatory and soulful mode. Aurelio has retained this musical flexibility, and in the sessions that became Laru Beya he revealed his tireless, playful love of making music on the fly-sometimes for hours at a time, lying in a hammock with his guitar, late into the night. Senegalese Afropop legend Youssou N'Dour selected Aurelio as his protégé in 2009 and encouraged Aurelio to channel his virtuosity, to balance his evanescent stage presence with reserve until just the right moment. N'Dour also contributed his unique vocal abilities to several songs on Laru Beya, including "Wamada." Aurelio visited Dakar visiting clubs, where groups like Orchestra Baobab invited Martinez up on stage and later joined him in the studio, learning a verse of Garifuna lyrics phonetically, a first for non-Garifuna musicians. Baobab join Aurelio on two tracks.

While Aurelio has the gift of spontaneous creation, his compositions are solidly rooted in the traditions he grew up with. At the heart of every song on Laru Beya beats a traditional Garifuna rhythm, and not just the most widely known popularized rhythms of punta ("Ereba") or paranda ("Ineweyu") familiar to fans of Central American music. Aurelio uses rarely recorded rhythms such as the sacred ugulendu or theAfrican-inflected abeimahani rhythm, connected with women's singing. To deepen the sad tale of migration to the U.S., Aurelio concluded the song "Tio Sam" with part of a traditional female song set to the abeimahani beat, sung by a chorus of Garifuna women.
Many of the songs on Laru Beya draw on traditional refrains, little pieces of old melodies that intrigued Aurelio and his long-time friend, producer, and musical collaborator Ivan Duran, who was intimately involved in the album's distinctive arrangements.

They also drew on family heirlooms, including songs Aurelio's mother had written, such as the moving "Nuwaruguma," about a mother's star watching over her son. When recording his version, Aurelio couldn't recall all the lyrics and called his mother, who lives in Brooklyn, New York. After giving him the missing words, she chided him for not inviting her to sing with him, an omission he corrected once she visited Honduras.

Beyond the beauties of Garifuna tradition and Aurelio's striking interpretations lay the true guiding force behind the album: the loss of one of the Garifunas' most eloquent and musically talented spokespeople, Andy Palacio.

Palacio, who passed away suddenly in 2008, can be credited with transforming the music of the Garifuna from local curiosity to global icon. He won regional popularity as the powerhouse behind punta rock, a Garifuna-rock synthesis that broke onto the Central American scene in the 1990s. Then in 2007 came his groundbreaking, chart-climbing, international award-winning album, Wátina(Cumbancha Records), a recording that truly put Garifuna music on the map and garnered Palacio global acclaim.

"The last time I was with Andy in Belize, he took me many places, like he had never done before. Every Garifuna community where we went, he would ask me to speak to the youth and sing Garifuna songs to them," Aurelio remembers. "He also promised he would take me to his village of Barranco but we never got there. I was surprised by the humble way in which he lived. But at the same time he was very sophisticated."

A mere month after Andy's death, Aurelio, Duran, and the talented Garifuna musicians who joined them on Laru Beya headed for a small fishing village, where they set up a studio in a beachfront house. They were often joined by local singers and dancers, like the chorus of village women who stopped by to add their voices to the title track, "Laru Beya." Recording and living by the sea for severAl Weeks, they were still in grief and shock, yet they knew they had to do something amazing to honor Palacio's life and work.

Yet Palacio's impact was arguably even greater in his native land of Belize and in the surrounding Garifuna communities of Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua , where his life inspired a new generation of Garifuna artists. "When we talked," Aurelio explains, "we often discussed the rescue and preservation of the Garifuna culture and how to inspire the new generation to be proud of their culture."

Musicians like Aurelio have been able to forge an innovative approach to Garifuna sounds thanks to Palacio's willingness to try new arrangements while keeping true to Garifuna tradition, adding new instrumentation to the drums and vocals characteristic of most Garifuna music.

"When Aurelio and I were talking about how to approach the arrangements for the album, we became convinced that it had to be forward looking and tear down all the barriers," Duran reflects. "Andy allowed Garifuna artists to break free and be as creative as they wanted, free to go in any direction they wished. They don't have to be totally true to their roots, because Andy's work was very far from traditional music, but still clearly Garifuna."


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Damage On St Lucia

Some photos of damage on St Lucia is on:


OECS to mobilise aid to St Vincent and St Lucia

CASTRIES, St Lucia -- The heads of government of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) met in emergency session on Friday via video conference to receive reports from the two member states that had been impacted by the passage of Hurricane Tomas.

The OECS Authority extended its profound sympathy to the people of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines who were and continue to be so severely affected by Hurricane Tomas. The Authority was particularly saddened by the loss of life in Saint Lucia and wished to express sincere condolences to the families of those who perished in this disaster.

The Authority recognised that this disaster has struck the region during an already challenging period, given the significant toll that the global financial crisis has taken on OECS member states, with regional GDP having contracted by 7.9% last year and projected to contract by an additional 3% this year.

The Authority also noted the significant impact of Hurricane Tomas on two of the major pillars of the regional economy -- tourism and agriculture. The overall impact on the regional economy this year will exacerbate an already depressed period.

In order to assist in expediting recovery, the OECS Authority mandated the OECS Secretariat to engage immediately with the international development partner community to mobilize all available resources in support of efforts already underway in the two member states, and the OECS heads of government pledged to provide whatever support possible to the governments and people of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines during this very difficult and traumatic period.

The OECS Authority has also agreed to give active consideration to engaging a team from the United Nations system to conduct macro socio-economic disaster impact assessments in St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

These assessments compute the indirect and direct effects and impacts of extreme events on the short, medium and long term economic performance of countries and form important platforms from which to engage the international community in dialogue on the long term support vital for the reconstruction of the two affected OECS countries.

Such an assessment had previously played a critical role in setting the stage for a series of international development partner and donor conferences which provided invaluable financial support to the extensive rehabilitation efforts in Grenada, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.

The OECS Secretariat will coordinate these efforts on behalf of its member states and form a counterpart team comprising of OECS as well as government officials from both affected countries.

The Authority acknowledged that the devastation caused by Hurricane Tomas extended beyond the OECS and therefore expressed solidarity with the governments and people of the sister islands of Barbados and Haiti, which also were impacted by Hurricane Tomas.

Copyright© 2007-2010 Caribbean News Now! at www.caribbeannewsnow.com All Rights Reserved

Montenegro and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines establish diplomatic relations


Continuing expanding its diplomatic network, today, this Tuesday November 9, 2010, the Government of Montenegro announced that the Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives of Montenegro and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to the United Nations (UN) in New York City, N.Y., USA, respectively T.Exc. Messrs. Milorad Šćepanović and Camillo M. Gonsalves, signed yesterday (Mon. Nov. 8) a protocol on the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries at an ambassadorial level, constituting recognition by SVG of Montenegro’s independence.

During their meeting, both representatives agreed that this new chapter in the relations between the two countries now provided the basis for the enhancement of reciprocal ties, both on bilateral and multilateral levels, especially underlining the importance of co-operation of small States within the UN system. Having in mind the importance of tourism revenues in their respective economies, they also discussed possibilities of exchanging experience and co-operating in this particular field.

Photograph credit: © Government of Montenegro 2010.

OECS and PAHO To Help Health Sectors

Tuesday November 9th 2010. The Castries based OECS Secretariat is collaborating with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), to help reduce the strain on the region’s health sector caused by the deadly impact of Hurricane Tomas.

On Octrober31st 2010, Hurricane Tomas a category 2 phenomenon unleashed extensive devastation to the agriculture, tourism, health and other sectors on the OECS Member countries of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia.

Of the two affected OECS Member States, Saint Lucia was hardest hit with at least 8 deaths recorded in association with the hurricane.

In an effort to address the hurricane affected health sectors of , St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia,  Francis Burnet, Head of the OECS Secretariat’s Pharmaceutical Procurement Service OECS PPS says his  institution and PAHO are in the preliminary stages of determining the pressing medical needs of those OECS Member States: “Particularly for Saint Lucia, the electricity was compromised and many health centres might have lost refrigerated medicines, for example insulin and biological products such as vaccines. Those preparations would need to be replaced. So in the case of Saint Lucia the Chief Pharmacist has been conducting initial assessments and the OECS Secretariat will collaborate with the Chief Pharmacist and managers of central medical stores in those two countries with respect to replacing health centre products. The priority countries at this point will be Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines. It seems as though the damage in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is less severe. However we are mindful that we are still in the hurricane season, and we will keep our surveillance programme open.”

Burnet adds that after the assessment, the OECS Secretariat and PAHO will look at the most effective method of procuring and shipping the needed medicines directly to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia. He says insulin, vaccines and oral rehydration salts are among the priority items: “Patients without refrigerators sometimes keep their personal supply of medicines at nearby health centres and those medicines might be in short supply. Therefore a rapid assessment is needed to ensure a continuity of those biological products. Usually in the aftermath of a hurricane, persons might consume water, which if not well preserved will cause water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and other gastro intestinal complications. So oral rehydration salts will be a priority item. Therefore we are collecting the data to provide those medicines as expeditiously as possible.”

The OECS Secretariat’s Pharmaceutical Procurement Service has been working closely with Dr. Adriana Ivama, a medicines and biological sub regional advisor attached to the PAHO office in Barbados, in conducting the needs assessment of the two Hurricane affected OECS Members States. Burnett says it is an established procedure where the Pan American Health Organisation offers assistance to affected countries in the aftermath of a natural disaster.               

The National Garifuna Folkloric Ballet of Honduras

The National Garifuna Folkloric Ballet of Honduras will perform live for the very first time in Los Angeles, CA at the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood, CA. Two performances on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm and on Tuesday, November 23 at 7:00 pm. Admission $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.

Cheryl Noralez

A New Book Written In Garifuna

Mon, November 8, 2010

A new book written in Garifuna will be launched on Wednesday in Orange Walk Town. The book is entitled “Bandi Isieni” or “So much Love” and was written by Belizean writer Nelita Sambula Doherty. Doherty told us more about her new publication.

Nelita Sambula Doherty - Author

“The book is about a mother and child relationship and the inspiration comes from own children. I was also looking for ways to have them learn Garifuna because they are of Garifuna heritage. That’s where my idea for the book came.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter

“How long did it take you to actually write this?”

Nelita Sambula Doherty

“It took about a year, I guess, to write the book and I had to get someone to translate it and get Mr. Roy Cayetano to edit it for me. I also had help from Exene Flores. For me it was an inspiration doing it and because I wanted publish it I wanted to make sure that the Garifuna was correct.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter

“The contents you said is about a mother and child relationship. Could you elaborate a little bit more about what kind of relationship you are talking about here.”

Nelita Sambula Doherty

“The relationship is about love and a child’s interpretation about love. How much his mother loves him and we are going to launch the book on Wednesday at one thirty in Orange Walk Town and we are going to divert from the norm. We are not going to do a reading of the book, we are going to present it in a skit to the public.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter

“You also have a CD that comes along with the book.”

Nelita Sambula Doherty

“Yes. We have an audio because reading Garifuna is difficult. Knowing the pronunciation is also difficult so I came up with the idea to do the CD to accompany the book. When you buy the book you buy it with the CD and you will be able to understand everything in the book and get the proper pronunciation of the Garifuna words.”

This is Doherty’s fourth publication. The Institute of Creative Arts is assisting Doherty in the launch of her book which will take place on Wednesday in Orange Walk Town. The book will be available at the Angelus Press and some stores in Orange Walk and Corozal.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Tourism Training

“Offer better value for money to counteract APD increase to the Caribbean”
Philippa Jacks

St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourist Office is ramping up training of locals who work in tourism to ensure the destination can offer value for money.

Barbara Mercury, head of the tourist board in the UK, said that if the air passenger duty (APD) increase makes the Caribbean a more expensive destination for travellers, the region must respond by ensuring the product offered is of the very best quality.

"If people feel they get what they're paying for, they will pay. It has to be value for money," she said. "Training must be intensified if we want people to come to the destination".

The Ministry of Tourism already had a programme of training for tourism workers, including hotel staff and taxi drivers, in place, but it is now being more heavily emphasised.

The new international airport currently being constructed on the island is the largest infrastructure project the island has ever seen. Mercury explained that the airport is vital to the country’s economy not only because it will bring more tourists, but because it will enable to country to export its fresh produce. It is due for completion by Spring 2012.

St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourist Office launched an agent training course two months ago, and have already had 365 agents complete it.

Damage From Tomas

There are photos of the hurricane damage on page

News From New Brunswick, Canada

Heidi Horsman took her role to the next level.

While in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Heidi Horsman (left) worked with a local co-tutor, Suzanna (right) to coach local teachers in ways they can use technology and differentiated teaching practices to help reach all learners.

Currently a Grade four teacher at Frank L. Bowser elementary school, her original career was in marketing. However the classroom beckoned for a very It's a family tradition. Her dad, Doug Horsman, was also an educator, retiring as principal of the Lower Coverdale School. Heidi also taught there.

She loves teaching, and decided to apply for an assignment with Project Overseas, in operation since 1962. This organization enables teachers from across Canada to travel to countries throughout the world, that the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) have partnerships with, to mentor teachers. The New Brunswick Teachers' Association, as a participating member of CTF, to date has sent 43 teachers overseas as part of this undertaking.

It truly is an adventure for our teachers (a local co-tutor assists them there with the "cultural divide"). When they apply they have no idea where they'll be going. Heidi went to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a nation in the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles Chain.

"Many of those teachers (in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), about 50%, have never had any university training and about 60% haven't even finished high school themselves," explains Heidi. "They teach the best they can, and some of the teachers I met with told me some of their struggles are with classroom management."

The entire purpose of the trip was mentorship for teachers, not to teach children. Heidi made the two and a half week visit during her summer vacation - also the summer break for their teachers.
While she found poverty there, there was also prosperity and she was surprised to find a modern computer lab where she mentored, made possible through grants. She was working in IT, teaching teachers not only how to use computers, but how to tie them into various subject areas.

Education there now goes beyond sixth grade, once the stopping point, and just as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines benefited from the Project Overseas visit, so do tens of thousands of school children world-wide.

Heidi would "definitely" volunteer again for another assignment.
She returned to Canada with an appreciation for the benefits of our education system - as well as the "family first" way of life in the country she visited.

"Their country doesn't have Sunday shopping. ... everything rolls up and packs away on a weekday at six o'clock. Stores aren't open and families are important. ... I need to learn to do that for myself. ... when family is important kids come to school ready."

She found the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines warm and welcoming, and got to enjoy her passion for photography while there. She shares those pictures now with her students here. Heidi is also an avid reader - and now a world traveller, with a purpose.

"I think that programs for international cooperation are a phenomenal way that you can give back without giving a ton of money. If you want to help people throughout the world," she says, "give them your time."


Sunday, November 07, 2010

SVG-OECS leaders discuss damage

SATURDAY, 06 NOVEMBER 2010  KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – Leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)  met on Friday to discuss the damage done to the Eastern Caribbean by Hurricane Tomas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has said. Gonsalves, speaking on a radio programme where he sought to update the nation on the rehabilitation work being done here following Hurricane Tomas over the last weekend, said the sub-regional leaders were meeting by video conference to discuss the matter.

“When I am finished here, I will go back to join the discussions, I have someone holding on for me, “Gonsalves said.
St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines were hit by the storm, with Castries reporting at least 14 confirmed deaths and both countries estimating that the damage could run into millions of dollars. He told the radio listeners that he had met with a team from the World Bank on Friday and that apart from the seven million US dollars in emergency assistance, his administration had asked the financial institution to help deal with the coastal damage caused by the storm as well as some secondary village roads.

Gonsalves said that the island had also applied to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a 30 per cent of its Special Drawing Rights (SDR) that would amount to four million (US) dollars and that aa team from the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) was here doing an assessment of the damage caused by Tomas.
He said that the CDB is providing US$70,000 through a soft loan for emergencies and that a further US$250,000 would be made available to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) for assisting the National Emergency Organisation (NEMO). The Prime Minister said that his administration had also asked the CDB to provide six million EC dollars (US2.2 million) under the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF).

Gonsalves said that funds were also being made available to the island by Taiwan, Venezuela, the European Union, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as from Australia, Brazil and the Caribbean Development Fund. In addition, he said he had written to the governments of Libya, Qatar, Turkey and Mexico and that he was awaiting the return of the Foreign Minister of Venezuela to Caracas, who is also a senior member of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) bank so as to fast track the US$20 million that had already been approved for Kingstown.

During his broadcast, Gonsalves was critical of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) whose leader, Arnhim Eustace had warned the government not to overestimate the extent of the damage caused by the storm.
Gonsalves said that the damage assessments were being undertaken by foreign aid and financial agencies and local public servants and that Eustace’s statement had the potential to embarrass the country.

But Gonsalves told listeners that the island needed more resources in the efforts at emergency rehabilitation and “I will continue to go and ask for them”.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Tomas devastated agricultural industry

Tomas completely devastated the country’s agricultural industry late Saturday evening/early Sunday morning and left over a thousand people in hurricane shelters, primarily in the north eastern and north western portions of mainland St. Vincent.

Disaster areas have been declared from Park Hill to Sandy Bay and Owia on the Windward side and from Belle Isle to Fitz Hughes on the Leeward side. Consequently, USAID has immediately provided US$50,000 to the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), to deal with immediate local purchases for disaster management.  

At a press conference on Monday, the Prime Minister said he is soliciting the support from the head of the US Mission to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean to back an application by SVG for an emergency loan from the World Bank. 

He said the Taiwanese have immediately offered emergency aid of US$200,000, which is separate from a request for assistance in terms of reconstruction.

Agriculture devastated
Preliminary assessment of damage done to the agricultural sector is EC$67M. Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, in a broadcast to the nation on Sunday evening said: “You go about and you don’t see any banana or breadfruit tree standing…. It’s awful ….. assessment is that the agricultural damage is in excess of EC$67M.”

He said there was 100% devastation in Agricultural Region Three, which stretches from Peruvian Vale to Orange Hill. “Over one hundred banana packing sheds lost their roofs. We had tremendous damage to breadfruit trees, citrus, coconuts, golden apples, avocado pears, nutmeg, cinnamon, pigeon peas ... small ruminants, some cattle, and of course, poultry.”

“The estimate done to the damage to the agricultural industry includes: bananas – 2,180 acres – EC$26.2M; plantains – 1,242 acres – EC $14.2M; fruit tree crops – an estimated EC$18.1; condiments and spices EC$1.2; vegetables and legumes an estimated 23 acres – 3.7; and infrastructure – 3.6M giving a total of 67.2M,” Dr. Gonsalves said in the Sunday broadcast, adding that more estimates would have to be done with respect to fisheries.

Housing and infrastructure
In his initial address after the hurricane, the Prime Minister said preliminary reports indicated 600 houses damaged within category one to category four, ranging from minor damage to serious damage. He said seven government buildings have been damaged.

Meanwhile, home owners have reported damaged roofs, some blown completely off, in areas in the outskirts of capital Kingstown such as Edinboro, Ottley Hall and Cane Garden, which are outside of the declared disaster areas.

A preliminary assessment meeting at NEMO on Sunday, involving all the various departments and state entities relevant to the reconstruction of the country, indicated severe damage was done to roads, particularly infrastructure of feeder roads, which would encounter expense on major reconstruction of back walls, culverts, bridges, etc.; telephone and internet services were not severely affected, except for problems north of the Rabacca Dry River.

Dr. Gonsalves said the main roads are passable but a lot of clean up still has to be done, which would cost an estimated EC$750,000 to EC$1M.

Water and electricity were severely affected in most parts of mainland St. Vincent, but at press time, both services were well within the 60% range of normalcy.

No deaths
Prime Minister Gonsalves that there were no deaths as a result of Hurricane Tomas but there were a few injuries. In his broadcast in the immediate wake of Hurricane Tomas, the Prime Minister expressed concern about the well being of two fishermen from the Stubbs area, who went to sea on Friday morning and could not be accounted for by Sunday evening. He, however, expressed relief at a Monday press conference that the fishermen were found at Balleceaux, one of the many uninhabited islands off St. Vincent.

He said that generally the community has responded well. In this regard, he thanked the SVG Circuit of the Seventh Adventist for providing 200 blankets and C. K Greaves and Co. for providing 500 loaves of bread.

Pointing out that there were 1,194 persons in shelters across the country, the Prime Minister stated that several shelters are overcrowded. He also disclosed that the shelters need about 2,000 comfort kits and plastic sheeting, a lot of plywood and galvanize, about 1,000 blankets, some kerosene lanterns, roofing materials and water jugs.

Special Committees
Committees were formed at a special cabinet meeting on Monday. These include, a Physical Infrastructure Committee to cover the assessment and needs for reconstruction. This committee is chaired by the Director General of Finance and Planning. It includes the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Transport and Works.

A special committee has also been set up on the rehabilitation of agriculture. This is chaired by the Minister and includes important officials in the ministry of agriculture including WIFA and WIFRESH (formerly WIBDECO) representatives.

Prime Minister Gonsalves took to the roads on Sunday last, less than a day after the passage of Hurricane Tomas.  He made regular calls and reports via the National Broadcasting Corporation/Radio St. Vincent, which stayed on air round the clock during and immediately after the passage of the hurricane.

Residents were able to call-in with reports of damages, and non-resdient nationals were able to contact with their families here.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, in a broadcast carried on NICE Radio called on citizens to  keep calm, listen keenly for any new developments and to follow the directives of the national authorities, including NEMO.

From The Vincentian

Thursday, November 04, 2010

On Errands In Kingstown

I went in to Kingstown this morning to do errands. I didn't notice much damage except for the old market shed on Bat Street.

And lamp oil (kerosene) was hard to find.

Otherwise things were normal. There was a cruise ship in port.

If you notice the dark cloud, there was a heavy downpour shortly after this picture was take, but the sun was out by the time I got home.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Richmond Vale Academy

You can view a video of Tomas passing through Richmond Vale at:


This comment was attached to the video

The hurricane passed Richmond and here are some pictures.
All animals, people are fine in Richmond Vale Academy. The buildings intact, but the agriculture destroyed. We are cleaning up and moving on.
In St. Vincent 1200 people are in shelters, 600 homes destroyed, in the northern parts of the country two days after still no electricity. The roads were cleaned the day after the hurricane.

The northern part of St. Vincent is declared disaster area.

More updates at www.richmondvaleacademy.org

Richmond Vale Academy runs an international school training volunteers, a nature and hiking center, community activities and farming.

BBC on Tomas

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Garden After The Hurricane

Taken with a Fugifilm A101 that I bought for $4 at a yardsale.

Over 1,200 Homes Damaged By Tomas In St. Vincent

November 2, 2010 CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Nov. 2, 2010: As forecasters of the National Hurricane Center last night warned Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to watch out for Tropical Storm Tomas, officials in St. Vincent and the Grenadines said over 1,2 00 homes were destroyed by the category one storm over the weekend.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador to the U.S., La Celia Prince, last night said the most recent assessment as of yesterday has indicated that the number of homes damaged by the hurricane now amounts to double what had been estimated Sunday.

The ambassador also said the main road in Hopewell has completely collapsed, having succumbed to the impact of the over-flowing river. However, no loss of lives were reported and the  two fishermen who were previously reported missing have now been found on Balliceaux. They are in good health and were taken to Bequia and would later be transported to mainland St. Vincent, the ambassador said.

 She added that the country is appealing for aid and that the United States Government has approved the disbursement of US $50,000 for emergency relief, with a possible further contribution pending a complete assessment of the damage.

The United States` Office of Foreign Natural Disaster Assistance (OFNA) will also today airlift 1,000 blankets; 1,000 hygiene kits; and 1000 water containers into SVG. Meanwhile, Prince said the Embassy and Permanent Mission of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Washington, D.C. has made contact with the Organization of American States; the Pan-American Development Foundation; the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to apprise them of the situation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to seek their assistance.

`The nature of the assistance which we will receive from them will be forthcoming in the next few days,` said the ambassador.

Nationals and friends of SVG who wish to help can do so  by making contributions to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Disaster Relief Fund c/o National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), c/o the National Commercial Bank, Halifax Street – Account Number: 110776 Swift Code: NCB VVC 22 or through the St. Vincent and the Grenadines` Disaster Relief Fund in the USA – Consulate of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, JP Morgan Chase Bank Account, Number:00000072629939, Routing number: 021000021.

Tomas is expected to strengthen tomorrow from its present strength of 45 miles per hour winds. The storm was about 365 miles from Haiti and 505 miles from Kingston, Jamaica last night.
The storm has caused severe damage to several homes in Barbados while five people reportedly lost their lives in St. Lucia where Tomas also caused the village of Soufriere to be declared a disaster zone and  island`s banana industry to be totally wiped out. 

Barbados Gazette

Garifuna Folkloric Ballet

On Saturday, December 4th, 2010, The CHIEF JOSEPH CHATOYER GARIFUNA FOLKLORIC BALLET OF NY will be performing at “A Night of Cultural Expression” at Public School 76, which is located at 220 West 121st Street in Harlem, New York.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Clearer picture emerging of Tomas damage

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Monday November 1, 2010 – In the two days since Tomas passed St Vincent and the Grenadines as a Category 1 hurricane, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and disaster officials have been getting a better idea of how much devastation was caused; and the conclusion is that it’s a “national disaster”.

The Prime Minister has estimated so far that it will cost at least EC$9 million (US$3.3 million) just to repair the approximately 300 houses that were seriously damaged. The rehabilitation of the agriculture sector – which was severely affected as bananas, plantains and fruit trees vital to the country’s economy were destroyed – and repairs to schools and other public buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure, are also expected to add significant costs. 

And he says the country will need “quick emergency assistance to get ourselves back on our feet in the shortest possible time”.

Speaking on local radio, Dr Gonsalves said: “I am appealing for regional and international assistance. I will myself make the formal appeals to our friends, our developmental partners.”

“This is a big blow to us coming on two years of economic challenges arising from the global financial and economic meltdown,” he added.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to meet with members of his Cabinet this morning to discuss the situation.
No deaths confirmed, only injuries 

There have been no confirmed deaths in St Vincent.

There had been earlier reports that three people had died, two of whom were blown off a roof as they were repairing it during the passage of the storm. However, it has since been ascertained that the two men did not die, but were seriously injured and had to be hospitalised.

In addition to damaging homes and affecting the agricultural sector, Tomas, which had maximum sustained winds of about 75 miles per hour when it passed St Vincent, caused landslides and felled trees, blocking roads.
Many areas are still without electricity which was knocked out during the hurricane.
Although many areas all across the island were affected, the northern parts of the island took the biggest hit and several people have been displaced.

There are over 1,000 people in 21 shelters across the island.

Landslides cut off parts of St Lucia

Over in St Lucia where Tomas caused severe damage on the south of the island in particular, residential, infrastructural and agricultural damage is being described as extensive, with disruptions to the road network also being significant. Two main bridges were left impassable along the Castries/Vieux Fort highway. D’Orange Bridge, which is one of the main bridges along the Castries/Gros Islet highway was damaged, along with Choc Bridge where a vehicle fell into the gaping hole. 

Minister of Communication and Works, Guy Joseph, has indicated that it will take a week to restore linkages between Vieux Fort and Castries due to the road and bridge damage. Additionally, the town of Soufrière may be inaccessible by road for up to three weeks. According to a Caribbean Risk Managers Ltd Special Event Bulletin, the resulting disruption has essentially resulted in the northern section of the island being cut off from the south of the island. This has serious economic implications as the international airport is located in the south of the island and the tourist locations are concentrated primarily in the north of the island.  

Tomas Weakens After Battering Some Parts Of The Caribbean

November 1, 2010 CaribWorldNews, MIAMI, FL, Mon. Nov. 1, 2010: Hurricane Tomas was last night forecast to weaken in strength over the next day or two after leaving a trail of property damage in at least three Caribbean nations.

In Barbados, reports indicate the some 50 houses were damaged by the storm that tore through the island, especially St. Peter`s parish, early Saturday morning. St. Vincent`s Ambassador to the U.S., La Celia Prince, said in a statement last night, it has been confirmed that more than 600 houses were damaged in St. Vincent and the Grenadines either partially or in their entirety.

At present 1,194 people are currently housed in emergency shelters throughout the island and there is over-crowding in some of these shelters, the statement added. No confirmed loss of lives was reported as of last night but there were reports of power and telephone outage in several parts of the islands. However, it has been reported that two fishermen from the Stubbs area who went to sea on Friday are still missing.

There has been extensive damage on the northern side of mainland St. Vincent, the ambassador said, adding that many trees have fallen, blocking roadway access to some communities.

The E.T. Joshua airport will remain closed until further notice. Present and impending landslides have resulted in certain areas being declared disaster zones including from Park Hill to Owia and from Belisle to Fitz-Hughes.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, is appealing for international aid and so far USAID has made an emergency commitment of US$50,000 and the Government of Taiwan, an emergency commitment of US $250,000.

Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility said yesterday that the Category 1 Hurricane caused `substantial government losses in Barbados, Saint Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines.`

Officials said Barbados endured the biggest actual loss as it is a significantly bigger economy than the other two, as well as the biggest loss relative to GDP -just over 1.5 percent, due largely to the fact that near-hurricane force winds affected the entire island and due also to high coastal exposure.

Both Saint Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines endured modeled losses of around half of one percent of GDP, the CCRF said.

The agency added that preliminary calculations show payouts of US$8.5 million for Barbados, US$3.2 million for Saint Lucia and US$1.1 million for St Vincent & the Grenadines will be made on November 13th or after, with the National Hurricane Centre data available at that time used as input to the loss model.