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Tropical Storm Erika Creates A National Tragedy


HEAVY equipment, protective gear and supplies, items for senior citizens and babies, and food, head the list of badly needed supplies in Dominica which was ravaged by Tropical Storm Erika last Thursday.

The St Lucia government is urging the public to come forward and contribute the required items. A government statement yesterday said that the headquarters of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) in Biseé, as well as post offices around Saint Lucia have been designated as drop off locations for relief items.

Among the heavy equipment needed in Dominica are: bob-carts, water pumps, chain saws, power generators, lighting equipment, shovels and pick axes, wheel barrows and power washers.

In the area of protective gear and supplies, the needs are for helmets and boots, ropes, hygiene kits, first aid kits, gloves and reflector vests.

The items needed for senior citizens include: diapers and wipes, hand sanitizers, milk and cereal and canned foods, and for babies, the needs are for baby milk and cereal, diapers and wipes, juices and snacks.

Other items needed are canned food, dried foodstuffs and cleaning supplies.

Special disaster relief accounts in the name of the government of St Lucia have been opened at 1st National Bank, RBTT, Bank of St Lucia, Bank of Nova Scotia and First Caribbean International Bank for persons wishing to make cash contributions to the Dominica recovery effort.

Meanwhile, Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit called the devastation caused by Erika “a period of national tragedy” and urged Dominicans to reach out to one other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Erika, which swept over the mountainous island, dumped 10 – 12 inches of rain over a six hour period that caused untold damage to the country’s infrastructure.

Skerrit who was away when Erika hit Dominica attending a United Nations conference in China had to be flown to his country from Saint Lucia via a helicopter supplied by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago Thursday.

The Dominican Prime Minister called on his fellow countrymen to steady and pull themselves together to ensure that they rebound as a nation in rapid time.

“It may have been part of the great design to have sent us a wakeup call to pull together to resolve our problems with the help of our global partners,” Skerrit said, adding that the extent of the devastation is monumental and worse than expected.

“Every community has been hit. There’s extensive damage across our small island after floods swamped villages, destroyed homes and wiped off roads. Some communities are no longer recognizable. It was a harrowing experience for me to see suffering on such a grand scale,” Skerrit said.

“So far we have confirmed that 20 citizens have died and some are missing. This is heart-rending. I give you my pledge that we will not cease until contact is made with every community and a full account is given of every single missing person,” Skerrit said.

He was also very concerned about the effect this tropical storm will have on our economy, Skerrit said, noting that the heavy investments made in infrastructural development since 2000, including the recent upgrading of the Douglas Charles Airport, the highway leading from that airport to the capital, Roseau, the highway from Roseau to Portsmouth, secondary roads essential for communication and the boosting of the country’s export drive, had all been heavily damaged by Erika.

“From what I can see hundreds of homes around the country have been destroyed or rendered unsafe to occupy. As I move around Dominica there is evidence of widespread damage to highways, complete bridges have been washed away, motorized access to several communities has been severely reduced and in some instances have vanished altogether. We have, in essence, to rebuild Dominica,” Skerrit said.

“The visual damage I saw today I fear may have set our development process back by 20 years,” Skerrit said adding that while he will not affix a dollar amount to the damage at this time because assessments are still be conducted, the cost to the country is substantial.

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