Over the last week, the Guyana government has welcomed with open arms, more than 55 expatriates, including children, who were evacuated from hurricane-ravished St. Maarten in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and as recent as Oct. 12 and 13, from Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda.
Trans Guyana Airways touched down at the Eugene F. Correira International Airport at Ogle on the East Coast Demerara on several occasions with many more flights scheduled to return more citizens home within the coming weeks.
The Department of Public Information, (DPI) has reported that Minister of State Joseph Harmon along with Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix and Director General of the Civil Defense Commission (CDC), Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup met nationals at the airport in a collaborative effort between the government, the private sector, and the Civil Defense Commission, as well as local businesses, which are committed to repatriating their brothers and sisters.
According to the DPI, Minister Harmon noted that anywhere Guyanese are, and anything that befalls them, once it is in the power of the state to do something for them, the state would step up to assist.
Several more flights will airlift other displaced citizens who have expressed their need to return home from other hurricane damaged Caribbean islands, where they once called home.
Harmon said the initial number of Guyanese was 43, but that number has risen to 116 citizens, who indicated their desire to be reunited with family in various parts of Guyana.
Harmon thanked the Correira Company and JAGS Aviation for its willingness to evacuate Guyanese, and dispatch other flights to those regions to bring home citizens including Anita Woodroffe, a cosmetologist who was forced to leave the island, because her business was not functional due to lack of water and electricity.
And since schools are still shuttered on the island, Woodroffe was eager to quickly enroll her daughter in school in Guyana.
Yashpaul Sewnarine’s vacation came to a crushing end after hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the island and left him stranded. He described the experience as harrowing.
Others such as Anita Khandhai, who lived in St. Maarten for seven years, is back in Guyana with her two children after living through the first such hurricane she experienced. She too, will enroll her children in school.
The government is committed to returning the body of Derek Ragnauth, 55, a businessman who had been residing in the BVI for the past nine years and who was killed after refusing to vacate his business on the island of Tortola.
His son was one of the passengers who arrived in Guyana ahead of his father’s body to make funeral arrangements.
Staff from the department of citizenship were on hand to issue documents that citizens misplaced during the devastating hurricanes.