Erika and Beyond

Picture this…

One day you’re out with your friends having fun. You get home to a nice dinner with your mother, father and brother. It begins to rain and you think to yourself you’ll have a good night’s rest because it will be cool and comfy. However, you awake to something much worse. Your house is flooded and before you can do anything, masses of trees and dirt are moving at a considerable pace towards your home, with the intention of burying it and everyone in it.

That was the reality of many Dominicans on Thursday August 27th 2015.

My island of Dominica was recently devastated by tropical storm Erika late August 26th into 27th 2015. Erika brought with her 12 inches of rainfall over a period of 12 hours and took about 35 lives. The island was in pandemonium the first few hours after the heavy rainfall stopped. Special disaster areas were officially declared where extensive damage and loss of life occurred. Most seriously hit was the village of Petite Savanne(pea-tit sah-van) which had to be evacuated and where most lives were lost, and missing people reported. In the days that followed, donations from all across the world came pouring in and clean up efforts started. Two national days of mourning and prayers were announced on the 3rd & 4th and 5th and 6th of September for the victims of this disaster.

The Rundown:

Photo: Courtesy of Prime Minister of Dominica View of the Macoucherie river in Dominica after the Tropical Storm Erika

Dominica is a very mountainous island which boasts of about 365 rivers, once for every day of the year. The heavy rainfall brought by TS Erika caused many rivers to overflow their banks and flood houses and roads. The Prime Minister of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, in addresses following the storm, has said not only has the country been sent back about 20 years but about 1 billion dollars in infrastructural damaged occurred. Many roads and bridges were damaged and bypasses had to be created in order to reconnect villages in the island.  This includes the two bridges going out of the city of Roseau. Additionally many villages were cut off from the rest of the island including Bioche (be-osh), Petite Savanne, Dubique (due-bic) and Bagatele (bag-a-tell). The main airport, the Douglas-Charles airport was heavily damaged as the Melville hall river took back its natural course. Residents of Paradise Valley and Dead End in Bath Estate also had to be evacuated.

Another result of the passage of TS Erika was the delay in the reopening of schools across the island as many schools serve as shelters across the island. The government has also taken the decision to cancel WCMF and the various creole pagaents which would have normally taken place during the Creole/Independence season. LIME Dominica has also canceled Creole In The Park.

Petite Savanne:

Photo: Compliments Jodie Dublin Dangleben Petite Savanne from air

#1 Special disaster zone, Petite Savanne is a village full of families. Most of the people who perished during the storm, were related to each other in one way or the other. Houses were washed away or covered by landslides, claiming the lives of many. Almost 800 villagers had to be evacuated and are now staying at the Dominica Grammar School or with family or friends. Many of these people now have to deal with the loss of many family and friends. Arrangements are being made by the government to relocate the village and ensure that the lives of these people return to normalcy.

What now:

Many islands and institutions have been making countless donations both monetary wise and by the donation of food, clothing and medical items. During the few days that followed many communities were running short of water and food supplies as the roads leading to these communities were cut off, either due to landslides or access bridges being damaged or washed away. Relief supplies had to be brought in either by boat or via helicopter.

The government of Dominica has also set up aTropical Storm Erika Recovery and Reconstruction Fund, as a way of accepting wire transfer donations, from generous donors who wish to help.

Since that fateful day, things have calmed down, but the journey to recovery is far from over. As are the deep running emotional scars which haunt residents of this still beautiful island.

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