Christmas in St Vincent and the Grenadines over the years have been an idyllic symbol of life in paradise so having a Christmas Day with floods, death and mourning was unthinkable until today.Eight persons are confirmed dead so far; I am writing this blog at 6:45 PM on Christmas Day. Residents living between Layou and Prospect are to expect no running water in their homes before Saturday December 28, 2013. sixty two persons are homeless, five persons are still missing and there are about five other persons who have sustained injuries.
This all started with those iconic words “the night before Christmas”. It was at that time yesterday, Christmas Eve that rains started pouring. The villages to the north of the island seemed to have been most critically damaged or devastated.
The overflowing of the rivers became the driving force of the havoc and displacement that have been experienced. A river in Vermont overflowed its banks and flowed into the streets. It further invaded the homes of residents and swept away household items such as clothing, appliances and Christmas amenities.
The Buccament Beach Resort was damaged very badly. In fact, one of its female employees was washed away in the night and her body recovered early Christmas morning.
The capital city of Kingstown was not spared the raves of its rivers, with many streets and businesses being gutted by persistent waters. There was an early report of a vehicle being washed away along the North River Road in the vicinity of the Kingstown Catholic Church.
Elsewhere on the island other vehicles suffered a similar fate as vicious rivers overtook pathways and roads on their unstoppable journey to the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean.
The main hospital, the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital was flooded as well and some information indicated that there were patients who had to be relocated from some wards.
The sole functioning airport, the ET Joshua airport in Arnos Vale had to be closed until mid day on Christmas Day because of the flooding of the compound as well.
One of the truly sad events was when a landslide came crashing down on a house in the leeward village of Rose Bank, killing all five family members inside. Never before had Vincentians have to deal with multiple deaths under such simple circumstances.
And to have it happen the night before Christmas made it even more painfully unbearable.
There were major landslides in places such as Cumberland, Barrouallie, Park Hill, South Rivers and Georgetown. Many critical bridges on the Windward side were rendered impassable or structurally unsafe for heavy vehicles to use.
A male relative of Prime Minister Dr Hon. Ralph Gonsalves died when a stone rolled into his dwelling house in Park Hill. The Prime Minister happened to have been in London at the time but he rescheduled his return flight to come back home on Boxing Day.
This made Christmas a Christmas to remember. All day long Vincentians and relatives were calling in to the on-going interactive radio programmes to share and gather information.
The only other time that the country was traumatized so close to Christmas would have been twenty five years ago, when on December 21, 1988, Vincentian recording artiste Walter Porter died when Pan Am flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 persons on board and 11 on the ground. That tragedy was the work of terrorists who placed a powerful bomb on the plane.
The Christmas carols and music virtually became non existent. What a Christmas Day 2013!