Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, disclosed Tuesday that there is a possibility that Saint Lucia may be used as an evacuation point, depending on the impact of Hurricane Irma on Guadeloupe and how busy Martinique becomes.
Chastanet explained that he has been meeting with the Saint Lucia Air and Seaports Authority (SLASPA) on the issue.
He also said he has been meeting with the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA), to see how many hotel rooms are available.
According to the Prime Minister, the coordination that would be needed should it become necessary for this country to be used as an evacuation point is also being worked out.
He expressed the view that Hurricane Irma may possibly be termed the storm of the century, as it bears down on the Leeward Islands and threatens a number of other Islands up the chain to Florida.
Chastanet, who is the current Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), said the sub-regional grouping has been working with the OECS Secretariat here in coordinating efforts.
Earlier Tuesday, meetings were held with representatives of several embassies.
Chastanet was also meeting with representatives of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) and the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce.
He disclosed that the objective was to begin coordinating activities in anticipation of the needs of countries in the strike zone, particularly Antigua and St Kitts.
The Saint Lucia Prime Minister revealed that contact has been made with the British and the French, the Dutch and the French overseas territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe which have military boats on standby.
“What we are preparing for here in Saint Lucia is a first response, because clearly the storm is heading North and unfortunately that may affect the ability of places like Puerto Rico and some of the other countries North of us that would traditionally be able to help us in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane,” Chastanet explained.
He said it is anticipated that the countries in the South, including Saint Lucia, will have to play a more significant role in the first response.
Chastanet said officials here are working with the SLHTA and the Chamber of Commerce to anticipate what the needs will be and collect materials such as water, clothing and canned food from locals and make sure that they are properly packaged and ready for delivery as quickly as possible to affected persons.
“We are also anticipating that those needs are going to change over a period of time,” he observed.
The PM said that the OECS will be working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
“This hurricane is so large and potentially so devastating that it is going to require a super effort on our part to make sure that we are taking care of everyone,” Chastanet observed.