On Friday, April 9th, 2021, the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines declared a state of emergency and an order for the evacuation of residents in the high-risk areas, described as the red and orange zones, as the island was threatened by intensified volcanic activity at La Soufriere. Republic Bank immediately activated a local crisis management team to strategize and mitigate the likely impact of the situation. No doubt, having to deal with a natural disaster during a pandemic is no easy task.
As an indigenous Caribbean financial institution that cares about our people, the bank took a collective approach from the get-go to respond and within a matter of days, the first shipment of the most precious commodity in a crisis – drinking water, a full 20 ft container landed on the island of St. Vincent. Thanks to the steadfastness of the banks Country Manager in St. Kitts and Nevis – Mrs. Pamela Herbert Daniel who worked closely with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to make it happen. Pamela expressed that, “The Bank acted in solidarity in the face of difficulty with love and compassion to our St. Vincent & The Grenadines brothers and sisters in a time of need”. She added that, “the region is a testing ground for disasters, but we are a people with resilience”.
It did not stop there, the bank’s Trinidad team was right behind with another shipment, this time a 40 ft container with a wider range of relief and essential supplies to include more water, water tanks, can foods, toiletries, bedding, personal care and more. St. Lucia being the headquarters for the Eastern Caribbean also mobilized to ensure that the staff members and their families were taken care of during this trying period.
It was an all-hands-on deck approach whereby all of Republic Bank subsidiaries in the region immediately set up relief accounts and encouraged persons to donate via branch notices, social media, and digital channels. In addition, team Republic worked closely with the Government of St. Vincent to facilitate an E-Commerce website: www.helpstvincent.com for persons living in the diaspora and other parts of the world to access and donate using their debit and credit cards online.
While devastating, the volcanic eruptions and displacement of residents on the island allowed the opportunity to demonstrate true humanitarianism through the power to care and the power to help, two of the bank’s guiding principles as a regional corporate socially responsible organization. Team Republic forged partnerships with the Rotary Club of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the National Emergency Organization (NEMO) to ensure that as many shelters and homes received supplies.
Michelle Palmer, Managing Director of Republic Bank (EC) reaffirmed that, “The relief effort continues across the entire Republic Bank group and the bank remains committed to supporting our brothers and sisters in Saint Vincent & the Grenadines throughout this challenging time. It is our responsibility to help in times of need, the people and communities in the territories in which we operate”.