‘Vincy/Grenada Link Up Boat Ride’ fundraiser to improve response to disasters

By Lincoln DePradine

Unison Joseph

The Caribbean has experienced some devastating hurricanes – such as Janet, Gilbert and Ivan – and Toronto residents, with family and friends in two regional nations, have embarked on a joint venture to provide assistance, should a need arise for emergency help during the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season that began June 1.

Members of Grenada Disaster Preparedness Toronto (GDPT) and CARI-ON – the Toronto-based disaster preparedness organization of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – have organized a collaborative fundraiser, “Vincy/Grenada Link Up Boat Ride’’, scheduled for Saturday, July 8.

“We believe that by working together, we can achieve more and be even more effective in our goal of assisting our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean,’’ said GDPT chairman Unison Joseph.

The Washington-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose job includes forecasting weather, has predicted a range of 12 to 17 total named storms this year. Of those, five to nine could become hurricanes – with winds of 74 miles-per-hour or higher.

According to NOAA, one to four of the storms could develop into category 3, 4 or 5 “major hurricanes’’, packing winds of 111 miles-per-hour or higher.

Immediately, following the start of the hurricane season, the Caribbean region was alerted to Tropical Storm Arlene.

 It was a short-lived storm and was followed by a stronger Tropical Storm Bret, which carried maximum sustained winds near 110 kilometers-per-hour, just shy of category one hurricane strength.

Unison Joseph

The presence of Bret led to the issuing of both a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch for St Lucia. A tropical storm warning went into effect for Martinique and Dominica, and tropical storm watches were extended to Barbados and Saint Vincent.

Other than Bret and Arlene, other named storms this year include Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Jose, Lee Nigel, Ophelia, Sean, Tammy and Vince.

The July 8 GDPT/CARI-ON “Vincy/Grenada Link Up Boat Ride’’ is a $65 ticketed event, which includes food for patrons. Tickets are available by calling Joseph at 416-856-3663; or CARI-ON chair Hayden Jones at 416-889-3293.

“All funds raised would improve our delivery capacity and allow us the flexibility to rapidly and effectively respond to emergencies in Grenada, St. Vincent and in other neighbouring islands. We will be able to mobilize vital resources more quickly in the most critical moments following a disaster, thus ensuring communities get the aid they need to recover as speedily as possible,’’ said Joseph.

His GDPT group, established in 2019, has assisted Grenada with hurricane-related and COVID-19 protective supplies, and provided material assistance to Dominica when that island was impacted by serious flooding.

CARI-ON, formed in 2018 and endorsed by the prime minister and the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, works in collaboration with the country’s National Emergency Management Organization.

According to Jones, the group was set up “with the aim of providing active, timely relief efforts, educational and informative resources’’; and also “helping families and communities to CARI-ON before, after and during disasters in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’’.