By Devina Samaroo
The Guyanese delegation sent to conduct a needs assessment in hurricane-hit islands is presently stranded in Antigua, as Hurricane Maria ploughs its way towards the Caribbean.
Maria intensified to a Category 3 hurricane, hurling maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. The mammoth storm nearly doubled in strength over the past 24 hours and is expected to keep growing before it makes landfall tonight.
Director General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Colonel (Retired) Chabilall Ramsarup confirmed to the News Room that the team was scheduled to arrive in Guyana tonight but such plans have been delayed until the storm passes and the airport reopens.
The delegation, led by Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, comprises the Preparedness and Response Manager of the Civil Defence Commission Major Sean Welcome, Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Charlene Phoenix, Guyana Honorary Consul to Antigua and Barbuda Robert Reis, Guyana Honorary Consul to St Maarten Cleavland Beresford, Principal Foreign Service Officer Michael Brotherson and Michelle Davis from the Immigration Department.
The team visited St Martin and the BVI over the weekend to conduct assessments of Guyanese nationals who were affected by Irma – which has killed a total of 37 persons including a Guyanese.
Countries still recovering from Hurricane Irma – a Category 5 storm which already caused mass destruction – are preparing for another blow.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Martinique, St Lucia and the US and British Virgin Islands. A hurricane watch is in effect for Puerto Rico, St Martin, St Barts, Saba, St Eustatius and Anguilla.
The hurricane is approaching the Leeward Islands with a track that threatens to bring its center quite close to St. Lucia, Martinique, and Dominica. The US island of Puerto Rico appears to be directly in Maria’s path, with the BVI also projected to be near the storm’s eye.