As the University of the West Indies (UWI) community continues to follow the tragic stories of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and impending Hurricane Jose, the university says it is saddened and stands ready to assist recovery efforts.
Reports on the impact of the category 5 Hurricane Irma include loss of lives, severe flooding, damage to homes and other infrastructure as well as major disruptions to electricity and countries’ water supplies.
The disaster affects thousands of Caribbean citizens including UWI students, faculty, staff and alumni and partners.
Commenting on the situation, Vice-Chancellor Sir Hillary Beckles said, “on behalf of the UWI community I express our deep concern for the people of the Caribbean who have borne and continue to bear the brunt of Hurricane Irma as it continues on a path of devastation across the Northern Caribbean with Hurricane Jose following close behind. We extend heartfelt condolences to the families and communities that have lost loved ones as a consequence of the storms.
“We also wish to let our neighbours and friends in the United States know that they are in our thoughts and prayers as they prepare to meet Hurricane Irma.
“We are reminded very frontally that despite being separate nations, we face common challenges as one hemispheric civilisation. This has come at a time when Caribbean nations are struggling to regain a forward development trajectory and can ill afford to have their infrastructure and investment opportunities so negatively impacted.
“The images of the destruction wrought on the countries of the Caribbean speak to significant reconstruction and attendant costs. However, despite their desolation, the voices of the people speak to courage, strength, resilience and a determination to move ahead with their lives.
“We applaud that spirit and say to them that our entire community is committed to their recovery and reconstruction. We have already been in touch with the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) regarding relief efforts and will be requesting public support as we mobilise our engineers, doctors, and other experts to help.
“The leadership and Heads of our Open Campus sites across the region continue to keep us informed of the situation as it unfolds. For the past 400 years, the Caribbean has been the most globalised region in the world – it is the world’s first global village. Throughout the years people from every continent have made the Caribbean their home. The stubborn legacies of a recent colonial past continue to have a deterrent impact on our small economies and the Caribbean has been the region most sluggish in its post-recession recovery response.”