KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Seventeen families are still in emergency shelters almost one year after they were displaced by flash floods last April.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement during his budget speech on Monday but did not say why the families have are yet to return to their homes.
However, Gonsalves’ press secretary, Hans King, said on radio Thursday that getting the families out of the shelters has taken longer than the government anticipated.
“I don’ try to defend things too much and I don’t try to make excuses. I think that the people should have been out of the shelter,” he said during a call to a radio programmes, adding that Gonsalves also feels the same way.
“But sometime things don’t always work out as you plan,” he said.
King said that there are decisions to be made regarding whether the families’ homes should be repaired and have them return to the homes in the area where the flooding took place or whether new homes should be built for them.
“And building a new home ain’t going take overnight. We all know that. So there has been some dealing in getting the people out of the shelters,” he said.
In April 2011, torrential rains and landslides caused physical damage to roads, bridges, rivers, and houses in a concentrated area in the north east of St. Vincent particularly in the Caratal and Basin Hole areas.
The damage has been estimated in excess of EC$100 million, according to Gonsalves.