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Vincentians in NY support disaster preparedness


by Maxwell Haywood

Vincentians in New York stand ready to go into full gear to contribute to disaster preparedness in SVG.

“Vincentians in New York are always ready to respond to Vincentians at home when the need arises”, said Lennox Daniel, SVG’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations in New York. He added: “disaster relief initiatives will help us in New York to be in a better position to provide assistance.{{more}}

Vincentian businesses in the USA have shown their willingness in the past to assist our efforts.”

Daniel further stated that “we should call on our friends in the New York City Council and the New York State government to assist us with any plans we have to show support to SVG in times of disasters. They are always willing to help the Caribbean community in times like these.”

President of Club St. Vincent, Verna Arthur, said that “I am quite sure if an emergency preparedness committee is put together here in New York the support will be overwhelming.”

This view was supported by Erlene Williams-King, main Secretary to SVG’s Consul General in New York Cosmos Cozier. She said, “The Vincentian community in the Diaspora has always been known to assist in time of immediate need. There is a Relief Fund which we have established here at the Consulate. Maybe many are not aware of it, but there is a Fund which was opened after Hurricane Lili, which struck in September 2002.”

There is great need for solidarity and assistance. In an interview I did with Howie Prince, Coordinator of National Disaster Preparedness in SVG, he outlined some of the needs related to disasters. He stated that, “SVG is highly vulnerable to natural disasters especially those related to hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions. The diaspora in NY could help SVG to boost our capacity to respond to disasters. For example, they could provide resources for poor people to rebuild their homes, and this could be done through government agencies or NGOs.”

It is critical for the diaspora to be prepared to assist. Arthur of Club St. Vincent emphasized: “If we take a proactive approach by preparing a disaster plan, the recovery process will fall into place. We in the diaspora must stay in contact with the disaster committee on the ground in SVG. Reason being, if a disaster occurs, and communication is impossible, we know how to assist.”

This call for the diaspora to be proactive is supported by many people in the New York Vincentian community. Sherrill-Ann Mason, President of the Vincentian Student Association of New York (VINSA) agrees with Arthur.

She said that, “our efforts in the Diaspora would be more beneficial if we are proactive and not wait for the disaster recovery process. We can begin to bring these people together to begin a dialogue about preventative strategies, and strategic interventions in the event of a disaster.”