Colombian President Alvaro Uribe toured the tiny Caribbean island of Providencia to examine damages caused by Hurricane Beta and assured residents the government would provide funding for rebuilding efforts.
Providencia's mayor, Cesar James, said the storm damaged more than half of the 600 homes on the island and knocked over about half of the trees when the storm lashed the island for 12 hours Saturday before moving on to Central America. About 30 people received minor injuries.
The island remains without electricity and telephone service.
After touring the island by bus on Sunday, Uribe discussed rebuilding plans with residents and town leaders.
"We're going to combine an attitude of urgency with one of patience," he said.
Uribe said the pastel-colored wooden homes that are part of the island's allure for tourists would not be replaced, saying "a tourist island has to be an island with good aesthetics."
Most of island's 5,000 inhabitants escaped the hurricane's fury by waiting out the storm in one of a dozen highland shelters set up by authorities. Dozens of residents whose houses were destroyed remain in those shelters.
"We have nowhere else to live," said Daniel Barker, who has been staying with his family in a concrete and brick shelter.
Providencia, formerly an outpost for Caribbean pirates, is part of an archipelago of Colombian islands. Its southern neighbor, San Andres Island, which has 80,000 residents, did not suffer any damages from the storm, AP reported. V.A.
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