Following its commitment to accept evacuees from St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Government of Grenada confirmed on Friday that individuals would not arrive at least for a few days, thus giving the authorities ample time to prepare.
It is not yet confirmed that Grenada will actually receive evacuees as Vincentians would first have to indicate their choice of location, based on the offers of assistance presented to their Government by various countries.
Minister with responsibility for Disaster Management, Sen. the Hon. Winston Garraway, said Grenada is awaiting word from the Government of St Vincent on the actual number of residents who are interested in being evacuated to Grenada. In the meantime, however, Government is moving full speed ahead with plans to accommodate evacuees, should they opt to come.
In the past 24 hours, Senator Garraway has chaired 2 meetings of the National Emergency Advisory Committee (NEAC) to discuss preparations, and on Friday, a press conference was held to update the nation.
Minister Garraway emphasised that as one Caribbean people, it is important that we extend a helping hand when our brothers and sisters are in need.
The humanitarian effort by Grenada to assist the people of St Vincent comes with the accompanying risk of transmitting Covid-19. Government is assuring the public that there will be strict adherence to the Covid-19 protocols for arriving persons.
Vincentian Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, has assured Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, that evacuees will be given at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and will be tested prior to their departure. Dr Bert Brathwaite of the Covid-19 Sub-Committee said Friday evacuees will also be rapid tested upon arrival in Grenada and will be required to quarantine.
Meanwhile, as part of the preparations to receive evacuees, the Royal Grenada Police Force has augmented its resources stationed on the sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Speaking at Friday’s press conference, Deputy Commissioner of Police Michael Francois said the additional officers will be strategically deployed, to better control the country’s borders and deter illegal entry. With traditionally close ties between the sister islands and St Vincent and the Grenadines, there is concern that the volcanic eruption and evacuation order may influence persons to attempt to enter the country illegally.
DCP Francois encouraged persons to make use of the authorised mechanism for entry that is being finalised between the Governments of Grenada and St Vincent.
In related developments, the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) has issued an appeal on behalf of its sister agency in St Vincent and the Grenadines, which has a list of items needed to provide relief to Vincentians. The includes 800 and 1,000-gallon water tanks, buckets, folding cots, portable potties, blankets, field tents, sleeping mats, respirator masks with filter, goggles, reflective vests, caution tape and hygiene kits.
National Disaster Coordinator Benedict Peters sounded a call for Grenadians to assist in whatever way possible. He said NaDMA will also review its own supplies to determine what items can be shared with the neighbouring island.