September 20, 2008

Turks and Caicos Opposition Accused of Playing Politics Over Storm Relief

Text of report by Caribbean Media Corporation news agency website on 19 September

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos: Turks and Caicos Islands Premier Michael Misick has warned opposition parties to stop playing politics with the lives of Grand Turk and South Caicos residents who are trying to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Ike.

The government has been accused of being partisan in the provision of aid to citizens affected by the hurricane.

But Misick told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the allegation was unfounded, pointing out that the country's disaster management department, the Red Cross, churches and other civil groups were the ones directly involved in the aid distribution.

"It's very unfortunate that even in the midst of our own challenges and crises, coming from the after effects of Hurricane Ike, persons will try to play politics," he said.

"I call on the opposition for us not to play politics with people's lives and to work together in trying to restore Grand Turks and South Caicos. This disaster is not a political one; it's a national one and one that transcends politics and one that we will not and cannot afford to play politics with."

More than 80 per cent of the houses on Grand Turk and South Caicos were damaged earlier this month when the ferocious Category 4 hurricane, packing 150 mile per hour winds, hit the islands. The majority of homes were either destroyed or damaged.

Premier Misick has estimated that it will be another three months before life returns to normal for people on the affected islands.

"We are now in recovery mode. Grand Turks and South Caicos are improving day by day but there's still no electricity in any of those islands. We've initiated a large clean-up campaign and that is being done in the public areas and private areas and we're hoping to restore electricity as soon as possible. It will be a week in some areas and even longer in others," he told CMC.

"I think it's going to take to the end of the year before those two islands are totally restored to some semblance of normalcy."

Misick said the immediate focus was on getting building materials and assisting the less fortunate persons whose damaged homes were uninsured.

Originally published by Caribbean Media Corporation news agency website, Bridgetown, in English 2050 19 Sep 08.

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