HC Deb 20 December 1963 vol 686 cc279-81W
Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the damage done to Colonial Territories in the West Indies in the recent hurricane; and what help has been given to relieve public hardship.

Mr. Sandys

Three hurricanes struck the West Indies between the 25th September and the 28th October, 1963. Hurricanes "Edith" and "Flora", on the 25th September and 1st October, affected mainly the Windward Islands. Hurricane "Flora" also caused damage in the Turks and Caicos Islands. On the 26th–28th October, hurricane "Helena" hit Montserrat and Dominica.

There was no loss of life but major damage in the Windward Islands was done to the Banana crops, which are the main export crop of those islands. Other crops, including citrus, coconuts and cocoa, were damaged but not uprooted. In Dominica, which suffered from all three hurricanes, there was also considerable damage to roads, sea walls and buildings. The chief damage in the Turks and Caicos Islands was to food crops. Montserrat sustained damage to roads and a river bridge, and to bananas and other agricultural crops.

An assessment of the extent of damage in each territory, given by the respective Governments, is as follows:

Windward Islands
Bananas—80 per cent. destruction of crop, representing$4,000,000.
Citrus—destruction of ripening fruit $20,000
Cocoa—damage to trees, with some uprooting $30,000
Coconuts—loss of fruits $30,000
Other damage—
Roads $655,600
Water supplies $46,200
Telephones $75,100
Government buildings $68,000
Electricity supply $6,400
Sea defence walls $201,500
Jetties $73,000
Bananas—70 per cent. destruction, at provisional cost of $255,000.
St. Lucia:
Bananas—40–60 per cent. destruction, estimated cost $2,314,950
Coconuts, cocoa and other agricultural products, losses worth $200,000
Fishing industry losses worth $24,000
Some damage to roads, bridges, sea wall, jetties and buildings estimated cost $400,000
St. Vincent:
Bananas—30 per cent. damage.
Leeward Islands
Bananas—50 per cent. destruction representing 40,000 stems worth $50,000
Tomatoes destroyed worth $12,500
Cotton washed away worth $6,000
Roads and bridges—damage costing an estimated $176,000.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Complete loss of corn and vegetable food crops.

Some damage to crawfish boats and houses.

Immediate steps were taken to authorise expenditure within the amounts given below for general relief and rehabilitation of the banana industry and for clearance and reconstruction of roads, bridges and buildings:

Fertiliser $350,000
Rehabilitation (in their case, operational costs of the Banana Association) $35,000
Disease and pest control $85,000
Repairs to roads and bridges $200,000
Repairs to private buildings $10,000
Fertiliser $190,000
Disease and pest control $65,000
St. Lucia:
Fertiliser $400,300
Field Rehabilitation $73,500
Disease control $83,300
Public works $75,000
St. Vincent:
Fertiliser $190,600
Field Rehabilitation $14,500
Disease control $36,600
Bridge repair $40,000
Turks and Caicos Islands, General relief £1,100
Total: $1,848,800

This expenditure was authorised without commitment to the question of any special assistance which might be given. The question of special assistance will be assessed on the basis of fully detailed information on which the Governments have been invited to submit about the scale and nature of the damage suffered and the resources locally available for necessary rehabilitation measures. As soon as all the necessary information has been received, the claims of the various Governments concerned will be considered in consultation with the Treasury.

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