2004-09-23 / Caribbean Corner

grenada parties agree on rebuilding country

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada (AP) – A Grenada trade official has said the op-position and the government have be-gun working together on the outlines of a reconstruction plan for Grenada after Hurricane Ivan.

Dr. Patrick Antoine also said that Caribbean Community (Caricom) Ca-ricom leaders such as Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Man-ning and St Vincent and the Grena-dines leader Ralph Gonsalves have been talking with the two major parties to assist the development of a working unity at this time.

Dr. Antoine said a memorandum of understanding has been signed between the two sides and he expects that agree-ment will be arrived on the plan for reconstruction in two weeks:

“I would say that outside of one or two political individuals, there is an emerging consensus on what needs to be done,” he said.

“I do not believe that those voices we’ve heard some very disturbing mess-ages from speak on behalf of Grena-da’s political parties or represent the level of maturity of the political system in Grenada at this time.”

The business sector also expects to be reopened for business much sooner than expected.

Nickolas Steele who manages an auto parts business, said parts of the financial sector re-opened recently and that other parts of the service and goods sector are planning to follow.

“Two or three days after the storm, I told them there would not be any economic activity in Grenada for five months,” he said. “I am now expecting to have some kind of commercial activity going on tomorrow (Thursday) so are most other businesses.

“It was just in the beginning when you looked at the entire task in front of you, it seemed impossible.”

However, Dr. Antoine said the tour-ism sector, badly damaged by the hurricane, will not begin functioning for another 12 months.

He also said with Grenada usually dependent on its port for 70% of government revenue, having to allow re-lief assistance in without customs duty, government’s finances will suffer.

Dr Antoine has urged all of Caricom and the international community to continue the relief and reconstruction effort as Grenada remains in desperate circumstances with many in need of food and shelter.

GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) – The death toll from a tropical storm that devastated parts of Haiti rose to 622 as search crews recovered hundreds of bodies carried away by raging weekend floods or buried by mud or the ruins of their homes, officials said.

The bodies of at least 500 people killed by Tropical Storm Jeanne were filling morgues in Gonaives, according to Toussaint Kongo-Doudou, a spokes-man for the U.N. mission. Fifty-six were killed in northern Port-de-Paix and 17 died in the nearby town of Terre Neuve, officials said.

“The water is high. As it goes down, we expect to find more bodies,’’ Kong-o-Doudou said.

Dieufort Deslorges, a spokesman for the government civil protection agency, reported another 49 bodies recovered in other villages and towns, most in the northwest.

“We expect to find dozens more bodies, especially in Gonaives, as ... floodwaters recede,’’ Deslorges told The Associated Press.

Two days after lashing Haiti, Jeanne regained hurricane strength over the open Atlantic on Monday but posed no immediate threat to land. Since it de-veloped last week, Jeanne has been blamed for at least 647 deaths, including 18 in the Dominican Republic and seven in Puerto Rico.

“I lost my kids and there’s nothing I can do,’’ said Jean Estimable, whose 2-year-old daughter was killed and an-other of his five children was missing and presumed dead. “All I have is complete despair and the clothes I’m wearing,’’ he said, pointing to a floral dress and ripped pants borrowed from a neighbor.

Many of the bodies stacked in Gon-aives’ flood-damaged General Hospital were children.

In Gonaives, a city of about a quarter million, people waded through an-kle-deep mud outside the mayor’s of-fice, where workers were shoveling out mud and doctors treated the wounded.

Deslorges said the town’s situation as “catastrophic.’’ He said survivors “need everything from potable water to food, clothing, medication and disinfectants.’’

A school bus lay smashed against a utility pole and waterlines up to 10-feet high showed the passage of the storm waters, which turned some roads into fast-flowing rivers. Floodwaters destroyed homes and crops in the Artibonite region that is Haiti’s breadbasket.

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