Grenada PM: Hurricane clean-up will cost millions

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

A day after Hurricane Beryl battered Grenada and its dependents- Carriacou and Petit Martinique- the country’s Prime Minister is estimating the clean-up effort alone will cost tens of millions of dollars. 

Dickon Mitchell spoke during a press conference, which began at 10.15 pm on July 2.

Mitchell made an impassioned plea for climate justice for small island developing states, saying it was unfair for these countries to struggle to rebuild after facing the brunt of the climate crisis.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), climate justice suggests that “countries, industries, businesses, and people that have become wealthy from emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases have a responsibility to help those affected by climate change, particularly the most vulnerable countries and communities, who often are the ones that have contributed the least to the crisis.”

Mitchell said Carriacou and Petit Martinique were decimated by Hurricane Beryl on July 1. 

Speaking before Mitchell, Dr Terence Walters, co-ordinator of the Grenada National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) said 98 per cent of the structures on both Carriacou and Petit Martinique were either damaged or destroyed. 

Mitchell said he went to Carriacou earlier in the day. 

“Having seen it myself, there is almost nothing that can prepare you to see this level of destruction, it is almost Armageddon-like, almost total destruction of all buildings, whether it be public buildings, homes or other private structures.

“Complete devastation of agriculture, complete and total destruction of the natural environment, there is almost no vegetation left anywhere on the island of Carriacou.

“The mangroves are totally destroyed. The boats and marinas significantly damaged.

 “There is almost complete destruction of the electrical grid system in Carriacou, the entire communication system is completely destroyed.”

The hurricane also caused three deaths- two on Carriacou and one on the mainland of Grenada. 

He said there were still many people in shelters on Carriacou and Petit Martinique. 

Mitchell said relief supplies were being taken to both islands by fishermen and volunteers.

He thanked the governments of Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia for their assistance and relief supplies. 

Mitchell said his Cabinet met hours before the press conference and has decided to form several task forces to co-ordinate disaster relief efforts and clean-up; assess the damage; and assess the effects of the damage on the country’s budget and economy.

He said a separate bank account is being created for those who want to donate to the relief effort.

Mitchell said the disaster has upended Grenada’s budget and it may not be able to meet its financial obligations.

“This hurricane is a direct result of the climate crisis that Grenada, the Caribbean and other small island developing states are on the frontline of.”

Saying Grenada demands and deserves climate justice, he said another task force will be formed to bring this to the attention of the international community.

“We are no longer prepared to accept that it is okay for us to constantly suffer significant, clearly demonstrated loss and damage arising from climatic events and be expected to rebuild, be expected to borrow to rebuild year after year while countries that are responsible for creating the situation and exacerbating the situation sit idly by with platitudes and tokenism.

“Grenada’s economy, Grenada’s environment, both physically built and natural, has taken an enormous hit from this hurricane.

“It has put the people of Carriacou and Petit Martinique light years behind and they are required to pull themselves by the boot strap, on their own.

“This is not right, it is not fair and it not just and so we will create a task force to champion this issue, to find the appropriate partners to continue championing this issue with, both within Caricom, within the small island developing states and within the larger international community, including the United Nations.”

Mitchell also called on Grenadians to unite to clean-up and rebuild their country.