Prime Minister Bruce Golding, today (August 29), visited several areas which have been affected by the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav.
Mr. Golding, who visited Gordon Town, Kintyre, Taylor Lands, Harbour View and McGregor Gully, told JIS News, that a team was currently working in Harbour View, to erect a Bailey Bridge, to replace the bridge that has been destroyed.
“It’s going to take us about 48 hours to have that installed, so we expect that certainly within 72 hours, to restore traffic between St. Thomas and the Corporate Area,” he said, adding that he would be receiving word as to whether or not there was sufficient material to repair the Westmoreland Bridge, which was also damaged.
The Prime Minister, also expressed concern that the death toll associated with the storm, could reach double figures.
“There have been fatalities; we are trying to confirm the number. We have information that there was a car with four passengers, which attempted to cross a fording in the Bull Bay area. It was washed away. We have recovered one of the bodies so far, and a search in on for the rest. There are a number of persons who are reported to have drowned. This is in the Kintyre area when the Hope River swelled its banks. I’m not able to confirm it yet, but I am fearful that the death toll could reach double figures,” he said.
Prime Minister views river at Gordon Town
Mr. Golding informed that he would be taking an aerial tour to view the extent of the damage.
“What we have been able to glean so far is that the major source of damage has been flooding and mudslides. The wind damage doesn’t seem to have been as extensive as we might have feared, perhaps because the wind speed had actually dropped somewhat down to 65 miles per hour. We have confirmed so far that we have lost two main bridges, one at Harbour View and the Westmoreland Bridge, which goes from the Junction Road on that route that takes you to Highgate,” the Prime Minister said.
He pointed out that the Government has been trying to respond to several emergency situations. “In Gordon Town, for example, there are, by rough estimates, some 31 persons who have had to take refuge on their rooftops because of mudslides…We will have to airlift them off their roofs. I have spoken with the Chief of Defence Staff. As soon as the weather conditions allow the helicopters to fly, we are sending out a special rescue team to actually get them off their roofs. Thankfully, some of them are within sight of the Gordon Town Police Station, so we are able to monitor the situation and hopefully there won’t be any further mudslides, because if that were to be the case, then we could really have a serious crisis on our hands,” Mr. Golding said.
In the meantime, Mr. Golding has called a meeting of all the critical agencies this afternoon. “I’ve asked them to spend the morning doing an assessment of two things really. One is the extent of the damage to infrastructure, to housing and also to do an assessment of the relief management and relief efforts,” he explained.