Remarks by the Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis
Dr The Honourable Timothy S Harris
Sept. 8, 2017
“My fellow citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis:
We must acknowledge our good fortune in being spared the ravages of Hurricane Irma, particularly in light of the devastation seen elsewhere.
In giving thanks to the almighty God, I am reminded of a Methodist hymn by Charles Wesley. Stanzas one and four of the hymn moved me. I must share them with you.
And are we yet alive,
And see each other’s face?
Glory and praise to Jesus give
For His redeeming grace!
But out of all, the Lord
Hath brought us by His love,
And still He doth his help afford,
And hides our life above.
I am now in a position to provide a further update on our recovery efforts:
- The RLB International Airport resumed its operations yesterday, Thursday, at noon and has since then accommodated several flights in and out of St. Kitts.
- Cargo operations at the Transit Sheds also resumed at noon yesterday.
- I am advised that vessel operations resumed today at our seaports. One cruise ship, the Carnival Fascination, docked at Port Zante, bringing thousands of visitors to our shores. Additionally, cargo vessel Midnight Wolf discharged at our deep water port.
- With respect to our electricity supply, during the passage of the storm, SKELEC maintained supply to more than half of its customers. It is estimated that electricity will be restored to the entire island by Sunday, Sept. 10. SKELEC will also continue restoration to individual customers.
- Ninety-seven percent of consumers in St. Kitts now have water services restored to their homes. The communities of Bourryeau, Molineux, Phillip’s and Mansion Village are experiencing low water pressure and consequential flow deficits. The Water Services Department is working assiduously to resolve the technical issues impacting the water supply in these areas. We are expecting to have the situation returned to normalcy as soon as possible.
- In relation to our Federation’s schools, we are set to re-open on Monday, Sept. 11, weather permitting.
In light of all that has transpired, and the threat of further storms – in particular Hurricane Jose – it has become necessary to curtail some of the celebratory events previously published on our Independence 34th Anniversary Calendar.
These events are as folows:
- The renaming ceremony for the Mental Health Day Treatment Centre, originally scheduled for today, has been postponed.
- The Appreciation Service for Sanitation Workers scheduled for Sept. 10 has been postponed.
- School visits by cabinet members, which were slated to commence on Monday, Sept. 11, are now cancelled. However, students can still look forward to the annual schools’ patriotic programme and treat, as that event will take place as planned on Sept. 18.
- Both the Prime Minister’s Independence Lecture Series and the St. Kitts Nevis Defence Force Flag Raising Ceremony planned for Sept. 11 have been cancelled.
- The National Fruit Day and the re-opening ceremony for the National ICT Centre, originally scheduled for Sept. 12, have been postponed until further notice.
I will now advise on the government activities [that] we will pursue, again weather permitting:
- The Zonal Prayer Service, planned for Tuesday, Sept. 12, has now been converted into a National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer as the nation seeks to unite, rebuild and acknowledge God’s providence following the passage of these storms.
- The Independence State Service is still slated for Sunday, Sept. 17, at the Charlestown Methodist Church.
- The Annual National Heroes Day ceremony will go ahead as planned at our historic National Heroes Park on Saturday, Sept. 16.
- The Independence Day Parade at the Warner Park Cricket Stadium and the ensuing toast at Camp Springfield, which are slated for Tuesday, Sept. 19, will be executed as originally planned.
- The Independence Cocktail Reception slated for the evening of Sept. 19, will be hosted as planned.
My fellow citizens and residents, I would like at this point to focus on our brothers and sisters in the neighbouring islands, who are now suffering tremendously in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. We are pleased even as we grapple with our own difficult recovery efforts to be able to offer solidarity and support to them in their moment of distress.
My government has conveyed our prayers and well wishes to all governments and people affected in the neighbouring islands. We are privileged to be our brother’s keeper. In doing so, we are able to offer the following assistance to our neighbours at this time:
- Our coast guard today rendered support to a distressed vessel and crew from Anguilla that had found its way into the Charlestown harbour. Medical attention was delivered to the injured at the Alexandra Hospital. Humanitarian aid was also provided to them. The crew has decided to stay in the federation until it is safe to return to Anguilla.
- Diplomatic clearance for the proposed anchorage of the French vessels Ventose and Germinal off the coasts of Basseterre and Sandy Point from today until Sunday, Sept. 10, while they wait for the Phillipsburg Port in St. Maarten to become operational.
- The RLB International Airport has been offered as a staging platform for relief efforts into St. Barts and French St. Martin, St. Eustatius, Saba and Dutch St. Maarten.
- Our hospitals are on stand-by should the need arise for us to provide emergency medical assistance to our neighbouring islands.
- Our coast guard vessel, presently being sheltered in St. Lucia, will be recalled home as soon as weather permits and be made available to assist in the movement of persons and/or cargo.
- We shall collaborate with other governments to bring emergency relief where needed.
My fellow citizens and residents, we all know that another storm is threatening our region. St. Kitts and Nevis must not become complacent in the face of Hurricane Jose.
Indeed, I call upon all of us to consolidate our preparedness and enhance our alertness to all official notices and advisories relating to Hurricane Jose and any other storm [that] may come our way. Prayer and preparation are our critical responses to the challenges of hurricanes.
At 5 p.m. today, Hurricane Jose was estimated to be 295 miles away from the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, travelling west northwest at 17 miles per hour.
Let me again urge our citizens and residents to continue to take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent loss of life and minimize damage to property.
On behalf of the country, I wish to commend all who have contributed to keeping our federation safe and secure during the recent passage of Hurricane Irma. The list is long, but I must mention the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), the numerous volunteers, our security forces and all other essential service personnel for their yeoman service to our country. With the imminence of Hurricane Jose, the NEOC remains fully mobilized.
My fellow citizens and residents, I know this has been a difficult time for us all, but each and every time the good God has brought us through. Let us then, as we face this new challenge, trust His divine providence to bring us safely through again.
May God bless us all, and may God bless the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis!