ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Tuesday October 14, 2014, CMC – Prime Minister Gaston Browne has called on residents to engage in a clean-up exercise following the passage of Tropical Storm Gonzalo on Monday.
The storm, which is now a category two hurricane, was moving away from the United States Virgin Islands, according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC).
The seventh named storm of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season swept over the island downing power lines as well as causing floods in several areas.
Initial reports indicate that roofs were blown off several houses and residents reported downed trees, billboards, and power lines as well as flooding as the storm intensified.
Gonzalo also triggered an island-wide power outage and forced the closure of schools and businesses.
“I am making a call for all Antiguans and Barbudans and residents to utilize Tuesday, 14th October to carry out damage assessments of their offices, both public and private, and businesses and also to engage in a cleanup exercise in order for the nation to be fully back in business by Wednesday of this week,” Prime Minister Browne said after making an initial assessment of the damage caused by the storm.
He said the damage exceeded what he had anticipated and there were individuals who would require relief having had their roofs blown off, water damage and other types of damage to their homes and properties.
The Prime Minister said that he has already instructed the Minister responsible for Disaster Management, Samantha Marshall to put together a special task force to carry out a swift national assessment to determine the needs of the people.
Browne said that his administration is prepared to provide assistance to persons who have suffered extensive damage.
He said schools should remain closed on Tuesday to allow education officials, principals and teachers to assess the situation.
But he emphasized that Tuesday is not a public holiday and that persons should utilize the opportunity to return their businesses and offices to normal.
Prime Minister Browne said that crews from the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) are already out repairing downed power lines and poles in an effort to restore power fully to the islands.
He urged people to exercise extreme caution when using the roads and assessing the damage to their properties.