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Prime Minister’s Address to the Nation on Hurricane IVAN

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Prime Minister’s Address to the Nation on Hurricane IVAN

Monday September 06, 2004.


Fellow St. Lucians, Good Evening.


By now, you will be aware that Saint Lucia has been placed on hurricane warning. In fact this has been the case since eleven o’clock last night.


This warning means that we must brace ourselves for the effects of Hurricane Ivan. If Hurricane Ivan maintains its present path, then it is expected to cross over the Windward Islands possibly over Saint Vincent tomorrow, Tuesday.


Hurricane Ivan is exceedingly dangerous.  In fact this hurricane is better nicknamed “Ivan the Terrible”. Maximum sustainable winds are near 115 miles per hour. Some strengthening is possible before Ivan reaches the Windward Islands. The hurricane will be accompanied by heavy rainfall and strong winds. The brunt of the hurricane will be felt in the southern part of the island. But please do not misunderstand me. The effects of the hurricane will be felt throughout the island. In the north, in the south, in the east and in the west. This is so because the effects of Hurricane Ivan will be felt over a radius of one hundred and forty miles. So we will experience storm force winds radiating seventy miles from the centre.



Once we are in a hurricane warning mode, then all emergency management systems must be activated and all persons prepared. I have been advised that some organisations and agencies are already in the emergency management mode and I commend them.


At a meeting of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) this morning, all members of NEMO were in attendance and provided detailed reports of our levels of preparedness in  the areas of transportation, water supply, food supply, medical support and communications. Over fifty persons were present.


The members of the various committees also received reports of the recent government investments in the areas of disaster mitigation. Our new satellite warehouses and communications systems recently established by NEMO will be put to the test.


I am satisfied that all emergency procedures are in place. We are ready for the onslaught.


This morning, also, the Cabinet of Ministers met and reviewed the situation. Consequently, I am making the following announcements:


1.   All schools will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, September 7th until the passage of the hurricane. The Minister of Education will announce the date for the resumption of school.


2.   Government ministries and places of business will be closed tomorrow until further notice.


Both decisions are necessary because Hurricane Ivan is likely to affect Saint Lucia by mid morning tomorrow.


3.   The Chamber of Commerce has advised its members to remain open beyond normal hours of business to enable members of the public to purchase necessary food items and supplies to secure their homes and property.


4.   All fishermen and owners of pleasure boats should secure their boats today and not wait until the tomorrow morning. It will be too late tomorrow as rough seas will be the norm.


Given that effects of Ivan will be more severe in the southern half of the island, I wish to appeal to residents of the town of Vieux-Fort and its environs, the districts of Soufriere, Dennery, Micoud, Laborie and Choiseul in particular to be fully prepared, to remain calm and cooperate with the emergency personnel. I urge you to listen to your radio, not to rumours. Members of the disaster committees in these areas must ensure that they publicise information on the location of shelters and be prepared to assist in the evacuation of persons in low lying areas.


Tomorrow, Tuesday, Ivan will strike.

I urge all of you to stay at home until the hurricane has left our shores.


I take this opportunity to extend thanks to the numerous volunteers who are part of the wide family of NEMO, either through the national or community based committees, for their dedicated contributions to our emergency planning efforts. I never tire to praise their continuing unselfish commitment to the management of emergencies when they arise.


In the meantime, I urge all St. Lucians to ensure that their families are safe, their property secured and that we are all prepared. I do hope and pray however that Saint Lucia will be spared the brunt of the effects of Hurricane Ivan.  I ask you to reassure the elderly, the sick, the disabled and the helpless.


We are in this together and will emerge to face the challenge unleashed by Ivan with strength and renewed spirit. We have done so before, and, together we will do so again!


Good night and may God bless and protect you.


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