St Lucia after the Hurricane




Dear Friends,

For the last 10 days, I was in hurricane ravaged St Lucia and have an update for everyone. On Friday, October 29th, St. Lucians were told that Tropical Storm Tomas was headed their way from Barbados. Since it only stayed 3 hours over Barbados, most people continued in their final preparations for the Creole Festival, set to occur the 30th and 31st of October. The Festival never happened. Not only did Tomas intensify to a Category 2 hurricane, it stayed over St Lucia from Saturday morning until Sunday morning, dropping as much as 60 cm (nearly 2 feet!!) of rain in that 22 hour period. After the storm finally passed, the damage was everywhere: flooding washed out bridges and filled homes with mud and debris; the electricity and water were out EVERYWHERE; roads disintegrated or were covered by landslides; people lost their homes and even their lives in the landslides. It seriously hurt Fond St. Jacques where many people died as their homes were washed away by mudslides as well as the Livity Art Studio where 5 people died in a landslide and the area is now completely unrecognizable. It used to be rainforest. Now all you can see is mud and rock. One lane of the main road was recreated through the mud, only to slide down again when a tropical wave deluged us last Thursday. The southern part of the island was hit the worst, from Bexon where the Cul de Sac river is so full of mud and debris that the river is actually perched above the level of the village and the people continue to get flooded every time it rains to Micoud where one bridge is completely gone and two others are unstable but are still being used! The capital city and tourist areas in the north were mostly spared. While the electricity service was restored with impressive speed, most people on island are still living without clean water over 3 weeks after the hurricane. Can you imagine having to go to a river to collect water, to bathe, to wash clothes while knowing that the river or spring water is contaminated with sewage?

With the help of the German Embassy and the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute, I took 30 cases of PUR emergency water purification packets to the island. The anger and despair of people who do not have clean water was palpable. Global Medic from Canada also brought PUR and portable water treatment pumps. The water company reconnected the town of Soufriere to piped water, but people immediately started getting diarrhea from drinking the water. Caribbean SEA is not an emergency relief organization, but we so happy we were able to help. We typically work on long term solutions. The young adult leaders of our 5 student groups on island are now banding together to work on drinking water issues as well and we need to support them.

Can you help us this year? Any donations are so very welcome to help us pay for emergency water treatment as well as helping the students devise and implement long term solutions for their communities. In the Mabouya Valley, my friends have reported getting worms or small fish coming out through their kitchen faucets. They deserve better. You can mail donations to our US office or donate through our website at www.caribbean-sea.org.

Thanks so much for your consideration, your advice, and your prayers. If you have any questions or need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Mary Beth H Sutton

Executive Director

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