SKN Chamber warns disaster changes how we do business

More Supply Side Independence a Key to SKN Survival

St. Kitts and Nevis, along with most of the Caribbean, must become more independent and less dependent on America during disasters such as the current hurricane season. That’s the main conclusion in a new report from the SKN Chamber of Commerce.

Even with a conglomerate of nations pouring their resources together, the rebuilding process will be a long and tedious one. The St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Commerce in their latest release outlined the long term difficulties the Federation will face while its brother and sister islands are picking up the pieces left behind by Irma and Maria.

“The reality that both storms passed several miles away from us did not change the fact that the twin-islands sustained infrastructural damage,” the statement said. “The impact on homes, public buildings, businesses, farms and roads was significant. Yet it is the direct impact of the storm on other nations that concerns us.”

Being a geographically isolated region, the Federation relies heavily on nearby ports and hubs to acquire food, resources and economic necessities. When one island is affected, every island feels the impact.

All of the food that reaches St. Kitts and Nevis comes through a port in Miami, Florida. That supply chain was momentarily disrupted after the storms, but Irma and Maria had both weakened by the time they hit Florida, mitigating the damage. The Chamber of commerce warns this will not always be the case.

“There is a need to look outside of the existing framework for options to enhance post-disaster business continuity,” concluded a post Hurricane Review conducted by the chamber. “Florida and Puerto Rico are two main hubs providing services to the region and this season both were hit.”

Although the nations were able to withstand this seasons blows enough to maintain the supply chain, the damage caused is evidence that SKN may not be able to rely on these sources forever. This fact caused the chamber to recommend a stockpile of relief supplies and bedding, as well as essential building materials, before each hurricane season.

These hurricanes were personal to citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis, warned the Chamber of Commerce. Family ties on islands more heavily affected created a nationwide urge to donate in anyway possible to the rebuilding process on St. Martin, Barbuda, Dominica and other neighbors, placing further strain on an impacted supply chain.

“Increased demand for water and dry goods brought into question the country’s ability to feed itself,” the Chambers statement read. “The devastation of islands serving as hubs brought to a temporary halt access to private imports and the importation of temporary shelter supplies.”

The statement concluded with a look forward at building resilience among Caribbean Island nations. Warnings taken from disaster stricken nations in 2017 could be the keys to saving other islands from those same fates in 2027.

“Dominica’s challenges with communication should drive us to build a more robust technology structure,” The statement said. “Barbuda’s total annihilation should prompt us to look at our building codes and our inventory of shelters. We must take a deeper look at our own vulnerabilities and put the necessary steps in place at personal, business and national levels.”