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February 17 2014

January 10 2014

PHOTOS: Christmas Flooding in the Eastern Caribbean

On Christmas Eve several islands in the Eastern Caribbean, including Dominica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, were affected by a tropical wave that resulted in several hours of rainfall, severe flooding and over a dozen deaths.

Many people were trapped and stranded because they were making last minute preparations for Christmas celebrations.

Saint Lucia, which still bears the scars from Hurricane Tomas in 2010, saw extensive flooding and the destruction of several bridges in the south-west of the island, isolating some communities. At least five deaths were reported, including one police officer who died in the course of a rescue effort.

A section of the Anse Ger Road in Saint Lucia collapsed

Terminal of the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia

Terminal of the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia

In the online group St. Lucians Aiming for Progress, several people, particularly from the diaspora, organized to send relief to those in need. Many questioned the public information (or the lack thereof) relayed by the National Emergency Organization and the Meteorological Office prior to the storm.

Wayne Vitalis was very critical of Saint Lucia's emergency management:

Martinique's Met Office denies radar malfunction; St. Lucia's Met Office denies radar malfunction …….. But some Lucians deny incompetence. The Lord cannot help us with that! NEMO must answer for what they told the nation, not to mention the chaotic/non-response to guiding and coordinating the nation's response to the disaster. 

Ananias Verneuil wondered if the fact that the storm came outside of the recognized hurricane season (June to November) could explain the response:

In my opinion this system came after normal hurricane season and therefore it was not considered to be cyclonic. In this regard, we all were caught with our pants down. It was a trough that contained unusual amount of rainfall that could not have been estimated before the down pour.

Minerva Ward sarcastically responded that it was unfair to expect the emergency services to be at work during the Christmas season:

Now I beginning to find yall real rude and outta place to expect NEMO and the Met Office to be working on Christmas Eve! Don't you'll know Christmas week everyting in government shut down. Yall actually expect government employees to be working?? The ppl must have been out on their shopping day you'll deh stressing the ppl with a stupid little upper level trough. Yall really expecting a lot!! So what if the whole country washes out to sea, it's Christmas and u dun know how tings run in St Lucia.

Fred Walcott felt that it would be prudent to find out what happened in the neighboring islands regarding the storm warning:

How did the other islands fare? Did they receive adequate notification? Were they prepared? What, if any, was the impact if they did receive adequate notice? This not an attempt to absolve NEMO or any other agency responsible for alerting the public. With enough notice people in flood prone areas can be persuaded to move to higher ground, companies can elevate their sensitive gear above known flood levels and cover same with damp-proof material. etc, etc. pre- Disaster mitigation procedures can be initiated. Like the island all utilities should have a disaster plan and execute regular disaster drills.


Runway of the Hewanorra International Airport.

Runway of the Hewanorra International Airport.

The Piaye Bridge in the south-west of Saint Lucia was washed away.

The Piaye Bridge in the Southwest of Saint Lucia was washed away.

Part of the Vieux Fort highway,which had been originally been constructed as part of a U.S. base in the 1940s, collapsed

Part of the Vieux Fort highway,which had been originally been constructed as part of a U.S. base in the 1940s, collapsed


Gas Station in Bexon

House in Bexon

House in Bexon


Flood damage in Bexon

Canaries Bridge , part of Saint Lucia's West Coast Highway, was washed away.

Canaries Bridge , part of Saint Lucia's West Coast Highway, was washed away.

While there was flooding in Dominica, the self-proclaimed land of 365 rivers, there has been no report of casualties. However, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has estimated that the rehabilitation works would cost approximately EC$45 million dollars.

Elmshall Bridge in Dominica

Elmshall Bridge in Dominica


Flooding in Roseau, Dominica


Mudslide in Citronnier, Dominica


Streets in Dominica filled with mud,

In St. Vincent, initial reports were that eight people (including children) died as a result of the storm, with some people still being reported as missing. The storm damage was particularly severe in the North Leeward region of the island. According to media reports, the E.T. Joshua Airport and the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital were both surrounded by water. The Grenadines escaped serious damage.

Caratal Bridge in Georgetown, St. Vincent.

Caratal Bridge in Georgetown, St. Vincent.


Flood damage in Georgetown, St. Vincent.


Flood damage in St. Vincent

Flood damage in St. Vincent


House in Rose Bank Where Five People Died.

House in Rose Bank Where Five People Died.

The photos above are used with the permission of Tamiko Sabrina, Johnson Jkube James, Linus Cauzabon, Natalia Bhajan, and Yukanka Daniel.

Reposted byniklash niklash

November 07 2013

Pilots’ Strike Leaves Caribbean Travelers Grounded

Regional airline Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT) was forced to ground its flights this week becasue of a pilots’ strike, apparently as a reaction to the indefinite suspension of Captain Carl Burke, the leader of the Leeward Islands Airlines Pilots Association (LIALPA).

According to Barbados Today, the suspension was due to Burke's intervention on the behalf of a suspended pilot, Captain Neil Cave: 

…the action against Captain Neil Cave and LIALPA boss Captain Carl Burke followed the grounding of an aircraft for technical repair on Saturday.
Cave, who was scheduled to fly the plane, was apparently not satisfied that the appropriate test procedure was used before bringing the aircraft back into operation.
He also reportedly highlighted discrepancies with the official paperwork and this led to his suspension the same day.
Cave reported the matter to LIALPA and Burke tried to intervene on his behalf during a meeting with Director of Flight Operations Captain George Arthurton, but he was also placed on suspension.
The pilots are now demanding the immediate retraction of both suspensions and a written apology from the airline.

Earlier, Burke had warned of an impending “meltdown” due to ongoing problemsat the airline including what was considered the poorly coordinated upgrade from Dash-8 to ATR planes.

There was a petition being circulated which called for the shareholder governments to completely revamp the management of the airline. (LIAT is collectively owned by the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados.)

LIAT released a statement informing the public of the flight cancellations and advising them of the necessary actions to take:

 LIAT wishes to advise its passengers that due to action taken by its airline pilots’ trade union LIALPA, pilots who were scheduled to fly this morning, Tuesday, November 5, 2013, have not reported for duty. The company has not been provided with the required notification of industrial action as required under its agreement with the pilots.

As a result of the action, some of the company’s morning flights have been disrupted. This is also likely to affect service for the remainder of the day.

The statement continued:

LIAT also wishes to advise that passengers who decide to travel but are unable to complete their journey due to the disruption, will not be provided with meals, transportation, hotel accommodation, etc. Passengers with onward connections are advised to contact their respective carriers.

Fifteen flights across the region were affected. According to reports, until the issues with management are dealt with satisfactorily, the pilots will remain off the job. There was a meeting scheduled yesterday between LIAT's management and the union, but there has been no word on the outcome.

Despite being the main regional carrier, LIAT does not have a great reputation for being well run; his was reflected in the reactions on social media, which saw the strike as just the latest example of the company's dysfunction:

@princesshadmoss was hardly surprised at the shutdown:

Robert Tonge thought the company should file for bankruptcy and re-organize:

@ShonelleBaker expressed support for the striking pilots:

Natasha B. was just relieved that she got home before the strike began:

At Barbados Underground, David implored the shareholders (i.e.: the governments) to intervene for the sake of the travelling public:

These disruptions by LIAT simply cannot continue. We are seeing an impact upon the lifes (sic) of Caribbean people in a way which has gone passed (sic) being unacceptable. Surely the Chairman can do better than the pompous and arrogant mouthings which he offered yesterday by way of an apology. Next time he should encourage his Communication Specialist to give him a script.

Enough is enough, will the real shareholders please stand up!

In the Facebook group St. Lucians Aiming for Progress, Dane Gibson suggested that the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) bailout LIAT:

ALBA/PetroCaribe- is an international cooperation organization based on the idea of the social, political and economic integration of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. What better links the islands than a regional airline…… Put ALBA to the test …….Let ALBA bail out LIAT, put and agreement in place to purchase its fuel at the offered bargain prices, reduce operating cost for LIAT, and since their agreements are the best thing since slice bread broker a restructuring for LIAT . Open up the routes to promote travel and tourism with Latin America and the Caribbean. Lets not make it about largess. Lets make it about open transparent agreements, that benefit all the PEOPLE.

Leigh Allan believed that the governments should relinquish control of LIAT:

Government should stay out of LIAT because time and time again government around the world have proven they can't manage businesses. Not too long ago the board of directors gave themselves a huge Pay Increase or Bonus rather than pay cuts or paying their bills. Corporate governance lacking has always been a huge problem in the Caribbean.

Sandra Inglis disagreed

 LIAT started out as an investment by some of the govts in these islands, to generate inter island travel, first of all. Now you're saying these Govts need to get out of LIAT'S affairs? But LIAT is their affair! 

In Antigua, Joya Martin noted that after their initial release, LIAT hasn't given any updates on the situation:

No fb updates from Liat on pilot strike action in almost 48 hours. It would be nice to be pleasantly surprised once in a while. They wouldn't dare to be so lax in communicating if we islanders had a strong alternative choice in regional air travel.

December 01 2010

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