THE National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) is continuing with its efforts to aid Dominica in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Erika.
NEMO embarked on a relief supplies drive yesterday, to help gather much-needed clothing, food, household items and other necessities for Dominica.
Last week, the Government of Saint Lucia, through the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), donated 60 boxes of supplies, including 40 boxes of hygiene kits, to the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) in Dominica. The Ministry of Health also provided twenty 20 boxes of medical supplies. These supplies are to be distributed to the impacted population by the ODM.
The items accompanied a contingent from the Marine Unit of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, deployed by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D. Anthony at the request of the Dominica Police Force, to assist with relief operations.
Saint Lucia has been swift in responding to the plight of the Commonwealth of Dominica, particularly those who suffered loss or were displaced as a result of the August. 27 storm.
Several bank accounts have been established here to facilitate cash donations by individuals and corporate entities.
Several districts in Dominica have been declared special disaster areas by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in the wake of last Thursday’s strike on the island by storm Erika which left 20 people dead and widespread destruction.
Skerrit made the declaration on Saturday evening after “broad consultation”. He said the action was necessary because of the loss of life, the destruction of property and the need for “focused response” in these areas.
A number of areas still remain inaccessible, cut off from the rest of the island.
One hundred and nine residents of Petite Savanne were evacuated from the community by Sunday evening and taken by boat to the capital, Roseau. Petite Savanne is one of the communities declared a special disaster area by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit .
“The intention is to evacuate everyone who wants to be evacuated,” he noted.
So far there has been no official indication of the death toll in Petite Savanne where, according to reports, massive landslides took several lives.
A search and rescue specialist team from Venezuela has been engaged in conducting the search in Petite Savanne using advanced technology.
The French have also been providing helicopters to assist in the exercise and so has Trinidad and Tobago.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Skerrit, has appointed Baroness Patricia Scotland to serve as the country’s International Efforts Relief Coordinator, with immediate effect.
In his letter announcing the appointment, Skerrit said efforts have been ongoing to mobilize international relief effort and Scotland’s appointment will ensure a focused and organized relief programme, especially from foreign benefactors.
Efforts were continuing yesterday to get the main airport back into operation as quickly as possible and hundreds have been engaged to assist. The airport has suffered major damage as a result of the passage of the storm.
Reports are that the apron was washed away and all the equipment on the ground floor in the terminal building will most likely have to be replaced. Skerrit explained that the airport had been flooded and is now covered with mud.
A team will assess the situation there and an action plan will be formulated, he said.
So far, the debris on the runway has been cleared and more equipment is being sent in to clear debris from the tarmac and from the terminal building.
Skerrit said the Chief Executive Officer of the Dominica Air and Sea Ports Authority Mr. Benoit Bardouille will be resident at Melville Hall over the next several days to oversee the restoration of the airport.
He added that he has given Bardouille a “free hand” to utilize all the resources he can find to do the clean up.
Venezuela and the French will assist with restoration of the airport and others have indicated an interest in helping as well.
Meanwhile, the Canefield airport will be used for small commercial flights in and out of Dominica. Additionally, a number of persons have offered their small planes for use.
Those making their way to Dominica can do so through Guadeloupe and Martinique. Skerrit said LIAT has been taking persons to those neighbouring islands from which they have access to Dominica via ferry services.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda has agreed to facilitate a ferry service to Dominica using an operator in Montserrat. His government will waive all landing fees and associated charges once the ferry is going to or from Dominica.