Ten Guyanese, including several young children, returned to Guyana last evening from Tortola as the Government of Guyana commences the process of evacuating Guyanese from hurricane-ravaged islands. Their names are: Mr. Randy Ragnauth, Ms. Avril De Santos, Ms. Nanshalee Foxe, Ms. Brianna Foxe, Mr. Cameron Foxe, Ms. Nia Gill, Ms. Rolanda Flatts-Gill, Mr. Jared Newman, Ms. Janice Callwood and Mr. Zoran Penn. Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix and a number eager family members were on hand at the Eugene F. Correia International Airport to welcome this, the first batch of evacuees.
Speaking to the media, Minister Harmon explained that over the course of the next few days, together, Trans Guyana Airways and Jags Aviation will be transporting Guyanese citizens from St. Maarten, where 116 persons have requested to be evacuated.
“Once the news got around that we were bringing people home, the numbers of persons in St. Maarten moved from 43 to 116. We understand that will happen as people now have a clear understanding that the Government of Guyana, working with the private sector, is doing everything within its power to ensure that our citizens are cared for, that they are given the level of comfort and that they are brought back here to be reunited with their families. We understand that this might be a temporary arrangement but certainly what we want to do is to make them comfortable and we want to say to all of them ‘welcome home’,” the Minister of State said.
He also informed that yesterday morning, a flight departed Guyana for Tortola with about 300 pounds of food supplies to be distributed to affected citizens there. Minister Harmon said that the Government is working to ensure that the evacuation process is completed by this weekend.
With regard to evacuees who may not have relatives in Guyana, Minister Harmon informed that arrangements have been made at the Hugo Chavez Centre, West Coast Berbice to provide accommodation for them.
Meanwhile, Minister Felix, who was personally overlooking the immigration arrival process, said that over the next few days his office will be assessing the documentation needs of those who are returning, since many people have had their birth certificates and passports destroyed or misplaced during the hurricanes. Moreover, he said reissuance of those important documents will be expedited, particularly since the affected children need to be enrolled in schools as soon as possible so that their education is not disrupted further.
Mr. Derek Ragnauth, who lost his father in the hurricane, recounted the horrors that he and his family endured trying to survive. He explained that he and his sister sought refuge at a shelter, but their father chose to stay behind to look over his business. They subsequently learnt that he did not survive the storm. The body of the deceased is expected to be flown out shortly.