September 7, 2017

My fellow citizens and residents: On behalf of the Parliamentary Opposition and the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, I express thanks to Almighty God for sparing our Federation the worst of Hurricane Irma. Truly, this coming Sunday should be declared a special day of thanksgiving.

Yes, there has been some damage and loss of property in our beautiful St. Kitts and Nevis but by all means nothing compared to the massive destruction and loss of life that occurred to our neighbors such as Barbuda, St. Barths, St. Martin, Anguilla, the BVI, St. Thomas/St. John’s and Puerto Rico where many of our citizens reside. Similar destruction is expected in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Southern Bahamas, northern coastal regions of Hispaniola and Cuba and Florida. We pray for God’s mercies on those who lie in Irma’s destructive path.

Although we continue to deal with the inconveniences and frustrations of electricity and water outages for much longer than anticipated given the limited impact by the hurricane comparatively speaking, let us thank God for spared lives and ask His Blessings on the people around us who have no homes, no businesses, no work, and those who have lost loved ones.

The Parliamentary Opposition stands ready to join with all the citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis in carrying out an “all hands on deck” approach to local recovery efforts, and to rendering assistance to our neighbours. I recall that after Hurricane Georges in September 1998, people from Anguilla came to St. Kitts very quickly to help us fix the JNF General Hospital. We were grateful then and now it is our turn to help. Many of our people live and work in neighbouring islands. They need our help. We should come to their aid as best we can. Those of us who have the requisite skills and are owners and operators of vessels, please volunteer your services, and we hope that the authorities would lead the way in this regard.

I also wish to express deep appreciation to the workers of our essential services who worked hard before and during the storm. These persons are now hard at work restoring water and electricity, clearing roads and other places, and keeping hospitals, shelters and emergency coordination operational. Let us render whatever assistance we can to the workers of the essential services – even if it is a glass of water or an appreciative thank you.

In closing, I urge residents to continue to be strong, patient and vigilant. There is another storm, hurricane José, approaching the Leewards. Although the projections so far indicate that it should stay at sea and not affect us on land, we must not let down our guard – ever.

We are a resilient people. We have been hit before and recovered by the grace of Almighty God and by our collective efforts of families, neighbours and communities. Let us go forward together knowing that as an independent small island nation, St. Kitts and Nevis has to become better prepared for very strong hurricanes as predicted by the Climate Change scientists. We can become even more resilient if we do the following – maximally protect the land and coastal environment, adopt the strongest possible building code, allocate the resources needed for optimal personal and national disaster preparedness and response while ensuring national savings for natural disasters, and collaborate closely with OECS and CARICOM partners.

Please cooperate with the authorities and essential services. Do everything within your power to keep yourself, your family and your property safe. Thanks for your attention and best wishes!

Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L Douglas
Leader of the Opposition