Please take time to read about the situation in Dominica and all the opportunities available there.
Message from Tina:
On August 27th Dominica was struck by Tropical Storm Erika. Torrential Rains caused landslides and flooding of every one of our 365 rivers. Nine villages had damage deemed disastrous. In one village, Petite Savanne, a massive landslide meant that whole families were lost in their beds! This was where we had been caring for a terminally ill lady earlier this year. The daughter is severely disabled and for two weeks we did not know if she had made it! She had been airlifted out and was with her brother in Good Hope. Counselling and befriending is crucial. Children and those with special needs are at increased risk.
In total, 32 are dead or missing and two whole villages have been evacuated and abandoned. In all, 700 are homeless, staying with friends, family or well-wishers. One family, who were already struggling, living in a shack on the Roseau riverbank, had the river come right through and “wash the floor!”. They escaped through a hole in the fence behind the house.
We have been involved locating sponsors to help with uniforms and school books and adding these families to the 50 vulnerable families we already support. This family where the oldest child has special needs is now being sponsored by a Lifeline couple in the UK.
Our friends in Harry’s home village of Delices are completely cut off as the bridge over a deep gorge has gone. Now the emergency helicopter which was on a limited time emergency aid loan is gone, they can only be reached by ladder. We are helping send grocery bags across on a rope! Thirty-five secondary children have been sent away from home to go to school. Through Facebook, we were able to locate people to help one girl travel to St Lucia for college as she was too scared to return down the ladder to get home!
On the West Coast the main road is broken in three places and new quick fix Bailey Bridges are being installed. Two villages have mud up to the windows and people are traumatised at having escaped with their lives and are now daunted by the clean-up job that will take weeks, if not months.
Some peoples’ houses and cars were swept away. We have visited and brought water and a hug, to say “You are not forgotten”. We are also working with our volunteer partners ‘All Hands’ who are helping with the dig out, and bringing in medical supplies.
Several water systems are broken beyond repair and so drinking water is in short supply. Where people cannot afford bottled water there has been some outbreak of disease. We are seeking to bring in mobile water filters and to get these sponsored to put in the clinics.
We were in the UK when Erika struck and had to return via ferry as the airport was flooded and under thick mud. Thanks to international assistance, the airport is now open and there is a route to get to Roseau through the Kalinago territory, although the usual route has a huge hole in the road.
Our home and holiday rainforest cottages are intact and accessible, although I counted 23 landslides on the way when we went to inspect after arrival home! The vehicles were dead and the electrics live, the phone system and computer blown, and the basement flooded. It has taken time to sort out. As the British Honorary Consul I have been a focal point for tourists leaving, and am seeking to help coordinate aid coming in. There is a wave of compassion in the Diaspora which needs careful handling to make sure the most vulnerable benefit and that we avoid dependency and promote sustainable solutions.
We are now in Recovery Phase and after the initial shock and numbness of the distress we are trying to encourage the tourists to come back and enjoy the hot springs and snorkelling, hiking and birdwatching and of course visit us!
George Kent adds: Thanks to many of you for the gifts which Angela has now packed into 120 large boxes (over 1000Kilos.) Dried Food is also useful, but money is even better. Andrew has kindly agreed that Donations to the work of Lifeline can be made through St Katherine’s, and thus Gift Aided , marked “For Dominica”
This is an email from Tina, British Honorary Consul in Dominica and daughter of Angela and George Kent, giving us all an update on the situation in Dominica. Many have already given much to the crisis in Dominica. If you would like to contribute financially then please contact Alan Cottle through the Giving page