Categorized | Featured, News, Regional

Dominica’s devastation and the aid response

A Special Report on Dominica – Tropical Storm Erica and Grace

By Bennette Roach

Water rushes from the roads over a car already washed into a river of raging water

Water rushes over a car already washed into a river of raging water

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had already described, the disaster imposed on his country by Tropical Storm Erika from tumultuous rainfall, as, “This is a period of national tragedy,” describing the extent of the devastation as “monumental”. He appealed for international aid and estimated that damage from the storm, “could set the country’s development back two decades,”

Reports stated while help, sympathy and aid were being organised to descend on the ravaged island. Rescue crews jumped off boats and trudged through mud, rocks and uprooted trees Saturday to reach communities cut off by a tropical storm that killed at least 20 people and left nearly 50 missing in the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica. The island said to be devastated by floods and landslides, has a population of only about 72,000.

Volunteers helped carry food, water and clothes for dozens of Dominicans who have been isolated for up to three days after Tropical Storm Erika dumped some 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain on the mountainous island.

Prime Minister calls for aid

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit pleaded for international aid, saying the damage pushed Dominica back by two decades. “It’s a very daunting task,” said opposition leader Lennox Linton, who met with Skerrit. “The country has been significantly set back.”

Dominicans on Saturday 29 had returned to the grim task of searching for survivors following the Erika that has so far killed 20 people and left several others, missing and presumed dead.

For some days forecasters had described Erika, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, as unusually hard to predict due to disruption from wind patterns and its interaction over land, which weakens a storm, as well as warm water, which adds energy. The storm as it neared the Leeward islands shifted very quickly the centre of its activity and impacted Dominica with its outer band of rain, as the centre passed near to Montserrat between it and Dominica.

OECS joins in call for assistance

Assistance and aid planning had begun. Even before Dominica had begun seeing about the damage to the country, the OECS Commission had begun engaging with regional and international agencies to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the effects of tropical storm Erika on the Commonwealth of Dominica, “as the country seeks to respond after floods devastated the island costing loss of life and leaving many homeless and lacking basic commodities…”

A release stated, “The Directorate of the OECS Commission is very concerned, and is communicating with Heads of Government of other OECS Member States, the international donor community and organisations to ensure the best possible actions resources… we are strengthening our response to Dominica through dialogue towards a coordinated response from agencies such as National Emergency Management Organisations, UNDP, CEDEMA, ECLAC and USAID..”

Montserrat responds (see story)

Montserrat funded by Her Majesty’s Government was among the first to respond by the following Tuesday, with support from the people and organisations, as well as the UK RFA Lyme Bay steamed across the Caribbean Sea to do what it had just told Montserrat they were detailed to do in the Caribbean, “assist in natural disasters.”

One family’s ordeal

There were stories that left a void in the hearts of many. Among the survivors receiving care was Richard Baron, a 51-year-old mechanic who was swept away in a flood with his son as they scooped mud out of their home. He spoke about the ordeal of himself and his son. “He shout, ‘Daddy, Daddy! Daddy, Daddy! When I look up, I see the whole mountain and everything was coming down toward us,” he said. “I was down on the ground, gliding with the landslide,” he said.

Baron said he managed to grab onto a tree and then onto his son.

“My son was about 10 feet away from the ravine. He would have perished,” Baron said, adding that he lost several friends and relatives.

Another said: “We assumed we’d be getting some rain, but not for that duration,” he said. “It hit Dominica for over 11 hours.”

Officials said the flooding was so destructive in part because the small island has 365 rivers as well as several lakes and waterfalls.

ECCB Reconstruction fund account

Several Caribbean islands launched appeals in aid of Dominica as the government also established a Recovery and Reconstruction Fund through an account at the St. Kitts-based Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

Caribbean Development Bank emergency relief

Late on Friday 28, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said it was providing US$200,000 in an Emergency Relief Grant in accordance with the CDB’s Disaster Management Strategy and Operational Guidelines, and is aimed at assisting the country in its response to the disaster.

Emergency Relief Grants are coordinated through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, based on damage and needs assessments and in close coordination with the development community.

CDB Vice-President of Operations Patricia McKenzie said, “We are saddened by the loss of life and how the disruption caused by this storm will affect the lives of Dominicans. We are in touch with the Government of Dominica; working with CDEMA and are standing by to provide concessionary financing, in addition to the grant, to help the country rebuild.” said

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Council of Ministers that manages the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Adriel Brathwaite, said assistance would be forthcoming after a team comprising officials from CDEMA and the Department of Emergency Management, travelled to Dominica to conduct damage assessments.

US Virgin Islands – “one Caribbean family”

US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp urged Virgin Islanders to support relief efforts underway to assist victims in Dominica. He noted that, while the people of the USVI were largely spared during the storm’s passage, the people of Dominica were not so fortunate. “The people of the Virgin Islands should unite in prayer and generosity,” Mapp stated.

“We are all members of a Caribbean family,” he added, “which moves us to be compassionate and reliable when tragedy strikes,” adding his administration is prepared to share whatever resources the territory can muster, and is reaching out to the benevolent societies that represent Dominicans in the USVI to determine what kind of assistance should be prioritized, and how it can be efficiently delivered to areas of greatest need.

He also pledged his government’s assistance in making available all information required by individuals and businesses willing to support the relief effort, indicating his desire to encourage a more (US based) regional response to the crisis in Dominica. He said he would raise the subject during planned meetings with the governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro Garcia Padilla.

Cayman Islands – “this is something we must do”

The Cayman Islands Government sent US$500,000 to the people of Dominica to help them in the struggle to recover from Erika.

“I really do think this is something we must do,” said Cayman Islands Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin. “We know devastation first-hand. They are our brothers and sisters too.”

He said he had been in regular contact with Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, who said more than 370 homes in Dominica are partially damaged or destroyed and two communities have had to be evacuated because of instability of the soil and risk to homes.

In addition to the aid from the Cayman Islands Government, Mr. McLaughlin like other Caribbean leaders urged Cayman’s residents to help in the effort to get dry food items and other necessities, including cash donations, to assist those in need. He had promised that “if enough goods are collected, Cayman Airways will send the items to Dominica via a nearby island because the airport in Dominica is destroyed and cannot support the landing of 737s.”

The Premier said, “However, as Caribbean people, resilience is embedded in our DNA and as your forbearers did on many occasions before, you too will rebuild. Regrettably, we have been there too.

PM says ‘No State of Emergency’
In the meantime as the days rolled on there was a pressure to declare a State of Emergency in the country. But eventually, flanked by Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and several business leaders, said that he had been advised against imposing the state of emergency because of the negative impact it would have had on the country that is seeking assistance from the regional and international community in its rehabilitation efforts.

“I have consulted those who I am to consult in the process and the advice I have received is that there is no need for a declaration of a state of emergency for Dominica.

“We have to appreciate that every decision we take there will be implications and therefore we have to study the implications and consequences of that declaration,” Skerrit said, noting that his understanding of a state of emergency would involve the suspension of “many rights of citizens.

No Selective country requested for aid
Skerrit spoke to the issue that his administration had been selective in the international countries it had been seeking support since the passage of the storm.

“Let me say very, very clearly this is totally untrue, this is far from the truth. In other words this is hogwash. This government has written to every single country in the world and every single leader in this world and to organizations, institutions and to even individuals…”

Opposition Leader Linton joins in support
Opposition leader Linton said he would urge all citizens to put aside their political differences and come together for the good of the country saying “the diversity of Dominica is really required to unite at this time.

“Families have lost lives, families have suffered injury, families have suffered lost of property, significant damages to homes, there have been losses in the business community, the agricultural sector…and the national spirit you could say has been broken,.

‘We need to rebuild that national spirit and so I am pleased to be part of this parliamentary effort…”

Antigua offers schooling to Dominicans
School children from Dominica will be admitted into public schools was the news coming out of Antigua last week. Education Minister Michael Browne says students from Dominica who were in Antigua and Barbuda during the passage of Tropical Storm Erika, will be permitted to attend schools here but with certain specifications.

Browne, in a statement on Sept 2, said the students who happened to be here on summer vacation, and whose schools in Dominica remain closed, will be allowed to continue their education in designated public schools until the end of the current school term in December.

St. Vincent money and bridges
St Vincent to donate money, Bailey bridges to Dominica, a decision conveyed by the Grenadines government. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves revealed this at a campaign rally. Gonsalves said he has spoken to his Dominican counterpart, Roosevelt Skerrit since the storm. That came very soon after the storm had hit. “I gave certain advice. He is a good leader — Roosevelt Skeritt, my very good friend, and we shared ideas on some things to be done,” he said.

Skerrit reported that a number of countries, including Japan, the United States, Britain and several Caribbean states have been making pledges of assistance to Dominica.

First Leader to visit – Dr. Kenny Anthony
On Tuesday, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony became the first regional leader to visit the storm hit island. He said, “I wanted to extend personally to the prime minister and the government and people of Dominica, the sorrow, the anguish and sympathy of the people of St. Lucia.

“We have gone through similar experiences…although we did not suffer the full extent of the loss of lives that you have suffered, but we understand the emotions involved. We understand the sense of loss,” Prime Minister Anthony said, adding that he was urging Dominicans “to be strong, to be resilient.

‘We are a remarkable people in the Caribbean, we have gone through several cycles of distress and we have made it in St. Lucia and I hope that my presence here can inspire even more courage, more resilience…,” he added.

Meanwhile, a Venezuelan aircraft carrying material to aid in the rehabilitation of the island, landed late Tuesday at the Douglas-Charles airport, that had been severely damaged.

No taxes on relief imports
Making it easy for aid to pour into Dominica, Prime Minister Skerrit, in his nightly radio and television reported to Dominicans that a decision had been taken by his administration “to waive all charges for all relief aid coming into the country whether it is consigned to the state or consigned to individual persons or organizations and institutions.

He said the Customs authorities have been effecting the decision that has already been ratified by the Cabinet.

This came especially the first aircraft landed at the Douglas-Charles airport. The government said it took a decision to waive all charges for relief aid coming into the country as a result of Storm Erika last.

Tropical Storm Grace increased disaster
But, on Tuesday this week, no doubt with some difficulty, the PM urged Dominicans to take precautionary measures even though Tropical Storm Grace was expected to weaken as it moved closer towards the Lesser Antilles. He was so correct and may have minimized further catastrophe, when again, flooding as a result of heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Grace, according to media reports. caused many people to be stranded after in Belfast, Pointe Round and Macoucherie, and other sections of the island.

The reports said that the bypass in Pointe Round was washed away. The main bridge was destroyed during the passing of Tropical Storm Erika, Dominica News Online stated. And, a flood warning was put into effect for the island until 6 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday.

During the course of last week, the government declared Thursday and Friday, “Days of National Mourning” as the island recovered from the battering it took from the storm that killed more than 30 people and left several others missing.

A brief government statement said that “all flags shall be flown at half-staff on all public buildings on both days” and that President Charles Savarin will deliver an address to the nation on Thursday.

“National Days of Prayer shall be held on Saturday September 05 and Sunday September 06, 2015.  Activities related to the National Days of Prayer will be held at the local community level as a result of reduced access associated with the passage of Erika.”

 

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

A Special Report on Dominica – Tropical Storm Erica and Grace

By Bennette Roach

Water rushes from the roads over a car already washed into a river of raging water

Water rushes over a car already washed into a river of raging water

Insert Ads Here

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had already described, the disaster imposed on his country by Tropical Storm Erika from tumultuous rainfall, as, “This is a period of national tragedy,” describing the extent of the devastation as “monumental”. He appealed for international aid and estimated that damage from the storm, “could set the country’s development back two decades,”

Reports stated while help, sympathy and aid were being organised to descend on the ravaged island. Rescue crews jumped off boats and trudged through mud, rocks and uprooted trees Saturday to reach communities cut off by a tropical storm that killed at least 20 people and left nearly 50 missing in the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica. The island said to be devastated by floods and landslides, has a population of only about 72,000.

Volunteers helped carry food, water and clothes for dozens of Dominicans who have been isolated for up to three days after Tropical Storm Erika dumped some 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain on the mountainous island.

Prime Minister calls for aid

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit pleaded for international aid, saying the damage pushed Dominica back by two decades. “It’s a very daunting task,” said opposition leader Lennox Linton, who met with Skerrit. “The country has been significantly set back.”

Dominicans on Saturday 29 had returned to the grim task of searching for survivors following the Erika that has so far killed 20 people and left several others, missing and presumed dead.

For some days forecasters had described Erika, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, as unusually hard to predict due to disruption from wind patterns and its interaction over land, which weakens a storm, as well as warm water, which adds energy. The storm as it neared the Leeward islands shifted very quickly the centre of its activity and impacted Dominica with its outer band of rain, as the centre passed near to Montserrat between it and Dominica.

OECS joins in call for assistance

Assistance and aid planning had begun. Even before Dominica had begun seeing about the damage to the country, the OECS Commission had begun engaging with regional and international agencies to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the effects of tropical storm Erika on the Commonwealth of Dominica, “as the country seeks to respond after floods devastated the island costing loss of life and leaving many homeless and lacking basic commodities…”

A release stated, “The Directorate of the OECS Commission is very concerned, and is communicating with Heads of Government of other OECS Member States, the international donor community and organisations to ensure the best possible actions resources… we are strengthening our response to Dominica through dialogue towards a coordinated response from agencies such as National Emergency Management Organisations, UNDP, CEDEMA, ECLAC and USAID..”

Montserrat responds (see story)

Montserrat funded by Her Majesty’s Government was among the first to respond by the following Tuesday, with support from the people and organisations, as well as the UK RFA Lyme Bay steamed across the Caribbean Sea to do what it had just told Montserrat they were detailed to do in the Caribbean, “assist in natural disasters.”

One family’s ordeal

There were stories that left a void in the hearts of many. Among the survivors receiving care was Richard Baron, a 51-year-old mechanic who was swept away in a flood with his son as they scooped mud out of their home. He spoke about the ordeal of himself and his son. “He shout, ‘Daddy, Daddy! Daddy, Daddy! When I look up, I see the whole mountain and everything was coming down toward us,” he said. “I was down on the ground, gliding with the landslide,” he said.

Baron said he managed to grab onto a tree and then onto his son.

“My son was about 10 feet away from the ravine. He would have perished,” Baron said, adding that he lost several friends and relatives.

Another said: “We assumed we’d be getting some rain, but not for that duration,” he said. “It hit Dominica for over 11 hours.”

Officials said the flooding was so destructive in part because the small island has 365 rivers as well as several lakes and waterfalls.

ECCB Reconstruction fund account

Several Caribbean islands launched appeals in aid of Dominica as the government also established a Recovery and Reconstruction Fund through an account at the St. Kitts-based Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

Caribbean Development Bank emergency relief

Late on Friday 28, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said it was providing US$200,000 in an Emergency Relief Grant in accordance with the CDB’s Disaster Management Strategy and Operational Guidelines, and is aimed at assisting the country in its response to the disaster.

Emergency Relief Grants are coordinated through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, based on damage and needs assessments and in close coordination with the development community.

CDB Vice-President of Operations Patricia McKenzie said, “We are saddened by the loss of life and how the disruption caused by this storm will affect the lives of Dominicans. We are in touch with the Government of Dominica; working with CDEMA and are standing by to provide concessionary financing, in addition to the grant, to help the country rebuild.” said

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Council of Ministers that manages the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Adriel Brathwaite, said assistance would be forthcoming after a team comprising officials from CDEMA and the Department of Emergency Management, travelled to Dominica to conduct damage assessments.

US Virgin Islands – “one Caribbean family”

US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp urged Virgin Islanders to support relief efforts underway to assist victims in Dominica. He noted that, while the people of the USVI were largely spared during the storm’s passage, the people of Dominica were not so fortunate. “The people of the Virgin Islands should unite in prayer and generosity,” Mapp stated.

“We are all members of a Caribbean family,” he added, “which moves us to be compassionate and reliable when tragedy strikes,” adding his administration is prepared to share whatever resources the territory can muster, and is reaching out to the benevolent societies that represent Dominicans in the USVI to determine what kind of assistance should be prioritized, and how it can be efficiently delivered to areas of greatest need.

He also pledged his government’s assistance in making available all information required by individuals and businesses willing to support the relief effort, indicating his desire to encourage a more (US based) regional response to the crisis in Dominica. He said he would raise the subject during planned meetings with the governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro Garcia Padilla.

Cayman Islands – “this is something we must do”

The Cayman Islands Government sent US$500,000 to the people of Dominica to help them in the struggle to recover from Erika.

“I really do think this is something we must do,” said Cayman Islands Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin. “We know devastation first-hand. They are our brothers and sisters too.”

He said he had been in regular contact with Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, who said more than 370 homes in Dominica are partially damaged or destroyed and two communities have had to be evacuated because of instability of the soil and risk to homes.

In addition to the aid from the Cayman Islands Government, Mr. McLaughlin like other Caribbean leaders urged Cayman’s residents to help in the effort to get dry food items and other necessities, including cash donations, to assist those in need. He had promised that “if enough goods are collected, Cayman Airways will send the items to Dominica via a nearby island because the airport in Dominica is destroyed and cannot support the landing of 737s.”

The Premier said, “However, as Caribbean people, resilience is embedded in our DNA and as your forbearers did on many occasions before, you too will rebuild. Regrettably, we have been there too.

PM says ‘No State of Emergency’
In the meantime as the days rolled on there was a pressure to declare a State of Emergency in the country. But eventually, flanked by Opposition Leader Lennox Linton and several business leaders, said that he had been advised against imposing the state of emergency because of the negative impact it would have had on the country that is seeking assistance from the regional and international community in its rehabilitation efforts.

“I have consulted those who I am to consult in the process and the advice I have received is that there is no need for a declaration of a state of emergency for Dominica.

“We have to appreciate that every decision we take there will be implications and therefore we have to study the implications and consequences of that declaration,” Skerrit said, noting that his understanding of a state of emergency would involve the suspension of “many rights of citizens.

No Selective country requested for aid
Skerrit spoke to the issue that his administration had been selective in the international countries it had been seeking support since the passage of the storm.

“Let me say very, very clearly this is totally untrue, this is far from the truth. In other words this is hogwash. This government has written to every single country in the world and every single leader in this world and to organizations, institutions and to even individuals…”

Opposition Leader Linton joins in support
Opposition leader Linton said he would urge all citizens to put aside their political differences and come together for the good of the country saying “the diversity of Dominica is really required to unite at this time.

“Families have lost lives, families have suffered injury, families have suffered lost of property, significant damages to homes, there have been losses in the business community, the agricultural sector…and the national spirit you could say has been broken,.

‘We need to rebuild that national spirit and so I am pleased to be part of this parliamentary effort…”

Antigua offers schooling to Dominicans
School children from Dominica will be admitted into public schools was the news coming out of Antigua last week. Education Minister Michael Browne says students from Dominica who were in Antigua and Barbuda during the passage of Tropical Storm Erika, will be permitted to attend schools here but with certain specifications.

Browne, in a statement on Sept 2, said the students who happened to be here on summer vacation, and whose schools in Dominica remain closed, will be allowed to continue their education in designated public schools until the end of the current school term in December.

St. Vincent money and bridges
St Vincent to donate money, Bailey bridges to Dominica, a decision conveyed by the Grenadines government. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves revealed this at a campaign rally. Gonsalves said he has spoken to his Dominican counterpart, Roosevelt Skerrit since the storm. That came very soon after the storm had hit. “I gave certain advice. He is a good leader — Roosevelt Skeritt, my very good friend, and we shared ideas on some things to be done,” he said.

Skerrit reported that a number of countries, including Japan, the United States, Britain and several Caribbean states have been making pledges of assistance to Dominica.

First Leader to visit – Dr. Kenny Anthony
On Tuesday, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony became the first regional leader to visit the storm hit island. He said, “I wanted to extend personally to the prime minister and the government and people of Dominica, the sorrow, the anguish and sympathy of the people of St. Lucia.

“We have gone through similar experiences…although we did not suffer the full extent of the loss of lives that you have suffered, but we understand the emotions involved. We understand the sense of loss,” Prime Minister Anthony said, adding that he was urging Dominicans “to be strong, to be resilient.

‘We are a remarkable people in the Caribbean, we have gone through several cycles of distress and we have made it in St. Lucia and I hope that my presence here can inspire even more courage, more resilience…,” he added.

Meanwhile, a Venezuelan aircraft carrying material to aid in the rehabilitation of the island, landed late Tuesday at the Douglas-Charles airport, that had been severely damaged.

No taxes on relief imports
Making it easy for aid to pour into Dominica, Prime Minister Skerrit, in his nightly radio and television reported to Dominicans that a decision had been taken by his administration “to waive all charges for all relief aid coming into the country whether it is consigned to the state or consigned to individual persons or organizations and institutions.

He said the Customs authorities have been effecting the decision that has already been ratified by the Cabinet.

This came especially the first aircraft landed at the Douglas-Charles airport. The government said it took a decision to waive all charges for relief aid coming into the country as a result of Storm Erika last.

Tropical Storm Grace increased disaster
But, on Tuesday this week, no doubt with some difficulty, the PM urged Dominicans to take precautionary measures even though Tropical Storm Grace was expected to weaken as it moved closer towards the Lesser Antilles. He was so correct and may have minimized further catastrophe, when again, flooding as a result of heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Grace, according to media reports. caused many people to be stranded after in Belfast, Pointe Round and Macoucherie, and other sections of the island.

The reports said that the bypass in Pointe Round was washed away. The main bridge was destroyed during the passing of Tropical Storm Erika, Dominica News Online stated. And, a flood warning was put into effect for the island until 6 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday.

During the course of last week, the government declared Thursday and Friday, “Days of National Mourning” as the island recovered from the battering it took from the storm that killed more than 30 people and left several others missing.

A brief government statement said that “all flags shall be flown at half-staff on all public buildings on both days” and that President Charles Savarin will deliver an address to the nation on Thursday.

“National Days of Prayer shall be held on Saturday September 05 and Sunday September 06, 2015.  Activities related to the National Days of Prayer will be held at the local community level as a result of reduced access associated with the passage of Erika.”