Damaged caused by raging water in Coulibstrie during TS Erika. Photo: Hector John

With just two months to go to the next hurricane season, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Planning and Development, Gloria Joseph, is ruling out the possibility of relocating the residents of extremely vulnerable communities such as Coulibistrie and Colihaut before the season begins.

However, she said that the situation of those villagers is high on the government’s priority list and efforts are underway to ensure their safety in the event of another storm.

Joseph was speaking, along with representatives of other organizations involved in the rebuilding process, during a radio programme on Monday.

She said the government is still in the process of identifying sites for the relocation of the residents of those areas.

“The ministry of housing is working. The lands and survey, physical planning division, we have already identified some sites that we consider to be to be safe zones, to be able to relocate communities but anyone who is into urban design and urban planning will tell you that it is not the easiest of tasks to relocate an entire community,” Joseph stated.

She described as “not feasible” and “wishful thinking”, the notion that within two months, a community of hundreds of people can be relocated since, according to her, the social and cultural dynamics of the community as well as the livelihood of the people, among other factors, have to be considered.

Noting that the response from the authorities may not be as quick given the time constraint,  Joseph gave the assurance that structures will be put in place to facilitate the setting up of temporary shelters.

“For persons, for example, who may have a roof compromised, some of the organizations may want to put on on that building the roof but the structure is a little bit compromised. It will be a very transitional roofing earmarked to be revisited so that the person can have a shelter, a roof over their head but at the same time, we’ll be looking at disaster centres, mega disaster centres so that if evacuation is needed it can happen.”

The PS said it is hoped that two mega centres will be ready in time for the season as the work is ongoing and donor commitments have been secured in this regard.

” So there is effort, it’s not just talk. There is action,” Joseph declared.