Some 200 Guyanese request evacuation from Irma ravaged islands

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By Devina Samaroo

Approximately 200 Guyanese in hurricane ravaged Caribbean islands have requested evacuation, according to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Services Officer, Ashianna Ally told News Room on Monday that about four persons in St Martin and approximately 230 from the British Virgin Islands (BVI) have asked the Guyana Government for assistance to return home.

She explained that some 88 Guyanese are affected in St Martin but only about four have requested evacuation. In the BVI, Ally said the Ministry has a list of 230 affected Guyanese and most of them are requesting evacuation.

She explained however that the numbers are volatile as communication with affected territories remains unstable, however a better report will be made available once the Winston Felix – led Needs Assessment Team returns to Guyana.

She said more precise figures will be available once clearer communication lines are established with those countries.

The officer explained that the numbers are subject to change as the Ministry is still gathering information and some families are now deciding whether they still want to be evacuated.

News Room understands that some families are now receiving insurance and have opted to remain in their respective territory to rebuild.

Meanwhile, Ally noted that the figures coming out of St Martin are the vaguest since communication lines have been completely lost.

“However we were able to gather a list of names from what we have recorded here at the ministry and from family members/friends that have requested information, also through the Honorary Consul to French Guiana,” she explained.

Ally noted that most of the others are still unaccounted for and the family members in Guyana are also trying to send some form of assistance to their relatives.

A Guyana Needs Assessment Team over the weekend met with the Guyanese community in St Martin and the BVI in an effort to coordinate relief for those affected by Hurricane Irma.

The team is comprised of 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 Guyana Government has already donated some US$100,000 to the relief efforts being organised by the Caribbean Community through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The private sector has also collaborated with the CDC to send much-needed items to those affected countries which have undergone much devastation.

Hotlines have also been established for Guyanese who are seeking information about their loved ones in the hurricane-affected island states.

Persons who have not yet heard from their relatives in any of the affected countries are invited to make inquiries via the hotline numbers: 226 1027, 226 1114, 226 1117, 600 7500 or 623 1700.

With countries still reeling from the effects of this hurricane – one of the fiercest storms ever formed in the Atlantic Ocean – tropical storm Maria has strengthened to Category Three and it is heading roughly along the same path of the vicious Irma which has already killed at least 37.

US forecasters say Maria is expected to make landfall later tonight. 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.

In its latest update on Monday, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Maria had maximum sustained winds of 195 km/h (120mph).

The eye of the storm is 100 miles east of Martinique, and Maria is moving west-northwest at about 13mph.

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