CMC: CASTRIES, St Lucia — St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says the island suffered losses estimated at EC$34 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) during the passage of Hurricane Elsa last Friday.

Chastanet, in a radio and television broadcast on Sunday night, said that the agricultural sector was severely impacted by the first named hurricane for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season with a preliminary estimate of damage to crops, including bananas and plantains, at more than EC$34 million.

“The greatest amount of damage was in agriculture,” said Chastanet, flanked by Infrastructure Minister, Stephenson King and Agriculture Minister, Ezechiel Joseph.

Chastanet told the nation that Hurricane Elsa had also damaged several houses including the state-owned project in the heart of the capital, Castries.

But he said that the assessment is still ongoing and that a more accurate picture will emerge later on Monday.

He said he has already received information from the Cayman islands-based Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), and that the island will not receive a significant pay out.

CCRIF is a segregated portfolio company, owned, operated and registered in the Caribbean. It limits the financial impact of catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes and excess rainfall events to Caribbean and Central American governments by quickly providing short-term liquidity when a parametric insurance policy is triggered.

It is the world’s first regional fund utilising parametric insurance, giving member governments the unique opportunity to purchase earthquake, hurricane and excess rainfall catastrophe coverage with lowest-possible pricing.

“More than likely just the deductible that we have which is about US$130,000,” Chastanet said, adding “so it means that the Ministry of Finance is already looking for ways to reallocate existing funds to be able to assist in getting the Ministry of Agriculture back on track and certainly, working with the Ministry of Infrastructure in dealing with some immediate need”.

“Really the big one will be the Ministry of Education and through the Ministry of Equity, some of the individual households, particularly to the more vulnerable in our society,” he said.

Meanwhile, a government statement, has noted that at a meeting of Cabinet over the weekend, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), presented an initial damage assessment (IDA) of the situation.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected by the hurricane. Thankfully, we were spared the full brunt of the system and our meeting is to obtain a full picture from all the government agencies of the damage around the island.

“I have gotten a first-hand view of some of the most affected areas and all the ministers and parliamentary representatives have also been out in the community assessing the situation,” the statement quoted Chastanet as saying.

Meanwhile, today’s edition of the Jamaica Observer reports: “Jamaica was yesterday spared the worst effects of Tropical Storm Elsa with only a few parishes experiencing hours of heavy rains, something of a disappointment for some Jamaicans, and a relief for others, who had braced for severe weather conditions based on the forecast for Sunday.

“Stalled cars and some amount of flooding in the corridors often affected constituted the extent of the impact in the Corporate Area, with some residents venturing out on foot in-between intermittent showers, which by late afternoon had subsided, notwithstanding ominously overcast conditions.

“The heavy rainfall expected for St Thomas, Portland, and parts of St Mary did not materialise and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) reported that, up to late afternoon, the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon, and St Thomas had experienced some level of flooding, but that not all parishes had been impacted by Elsa.

“The flooded areas included: Passagefort Drive, Waterford, Gregory Park, in Portmore St Catherine; Seaforth, Yallahs, Grant’s Pen main road in St Thomas; Nine Miles, Bull Bay, Marcus Garvey Dive, Church Street, Waltham Park Road, sections of Trafalgar Road, Drewsland, Half-Way-Tree, Deanery Road, and York Street, in St Andrew; Old Harbour Bay, Claremont housing scheme, and Buckfield in St Catherine; Longville Park, Sandy Bay, May Pen, Lionel Town, Bushy Park, Moneymusk housing scheme in Clarendon.

“At the same time, Jamaicans are being warned that, with the island having had a close call so early in the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, this is a warning sign climate change.

“Acting director general of the ODPEM Richard Thompson said the Elsa threat should be used as an impetus to bolster preparation for the rest of the season.”

“You do have persons that still say Jamaica is ‘God-blessed’, so this and that won’t happen — but it is getting way better. This is early in the hurricane season, an unusual situation where you have a system forming in the Caribbean at such an early point in the hurricane season,” he said.

“We normally have this kind of formation August to September. It’s a bit out of character, showing that climate change is real. It gives us an area of concern that it’s so early and a system would have tracked so close to us. The season is shaping up to be a very active one, [and] hopefully, we will not see something similar to last year where we had close to 30 systems,” Thompson told the Observer.

“He underscored that Jamaicans should remain alert, despite the impact of Elsa being less than initially anticipated, bearing in mind that forecasts are made with the best information available at the time of tracking a storm.”

Thompson said that the ODPEM had done its checks on the more than 860 emergency shelters across the island, outfitting the facilities with the necessary sanitisation and COVID-19 prevention measures.

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