The government has spent in excess of $5-million to assist those who were affected by the passage of Tropical Storm Erika in August last year, officials have said.
At the same time Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has assured residents of storm-ravaged Petite Savanne that the government will find the money to make sure they are resettled comfortably.
Members of cabinet met with the residents of Petite Savanne on Monday evening and Chairperson of the Social Services and Welfare Subcommittee, Justina Charles said some 191 families were evacuated from the community when it was deemed unsafe after the passage of the storm.
She gave a break down of the finances spent by the government to assist the evacuees.
Charles said that over $698,000 was spent to accommodate them in guest houses.
Additionally, $700,000 was spent for renting private homes to accommodate them.
“Cabinet took a decision to provide rent and the decision was that we would pay a maximum of $1,000 per house,” she explained. “And so with all of the people that were displaced, we calculated at $1,00o. So we knew exactly how much we required and so we have from October (2015) to July (2016), we had people in various houses and every month the number would increase because we would encourage people to get their houses and make yourself as comfortable as possible.”
She pointed out that from October 2015 to July 2016, the government spent $778,370 just for renting private homes.
But that was not all, according to Charles, since the government spent over $1-million to feed the evacuees.
“While you were at the shelters, we still had to provide food at all of those shelters and for food at the shelter, before we began giving the displacement allowance, government spent $1,511,235 towards food at all of the guest houses,” she explained.
She added, “we can safely say that government has spent in excess of $5-million just to cushion the impact of the storm on all of those were affected.”
Meanwhile, Skerrit gave the assurance that money will not be an issue for resettling the residents at their new homes in Bellevue Chopin.
“Now I give you the assurances, as the Prime Minister of the country and the Minister of Finance that in respect to your resettlement money will never be the consideration,” he stated. “Whatever it will cost to resettle you and resettle you comfortably, this government with the grace of God will find the resources and make them available.”
The Prime Minister pointed out that the government has a biblical and Christian duty to help those in need.
“That is what as a society we should be doing,” he noted.
Petite Savanne was among the community which was hit hard by Tropical Storm Erika. After the storm, the area was deemed unsafe and the members of the community were evacuated.
In July 2016, the government signed a contract with Montreal Management Consultants Est (MMCE) for the building of houses for the resettlement of the people of Petite Savanne in Bellevue Chopin.