So tough for our friends in the villages of Delices and Boetica. The longstanding Boetica Bridge collapsed in the storm two months ago. It was basically a metal culvert in the bottom of a very deep gorge which was then filled with stones and had the road built on top. Erika filled the culvert with debris and the river backed up and then broke what was essentially a dam. This is not an easy fix and the residents have tried various strategies to get across as vehicular access is out of the question.
This week this video (see above) went viral around Dominica where usually sane mothers took to the cargo wire and zipped across taking their lives in their hands. NO helmets, safety harness or safety wires! Balmy - but it shows what life has come to for these folks who are essentially trapped . It is very difficult to get groceries in or produce out, and a long climb down and up again for the tough. There are complaints that there is not much information forthcoming about the plans of the Government who are hoping that the Prime Minister with think of something or find a wealthy engineering friendly country to fix the problem whilst he is on his travels welcoming his baby girl into the world.
Most of the secondary school children are out of the village staying with friends and relations near to their schools and are separated from their families and normal environment. We have had some funds sent to us and have reached out to these families to make sure that the children have their uniforms and toiletries for school and to provide social support where possible.
Adult pampers are an expressed need and so we were able to source some from the Rotary Club and swing them over on the Pulley for Molly , 100 years old this year!
Even now two months on from the 27th of August we are meeting people who had their lives turned upside down. We have been working with a family whose four bedroomed rented property was undermined by a tiny stream that turned into a raging torrent. The pillars gave way and the whole structure crashed down 30 feet with the family in it. Maria told me how she lay there wondering whether her body was still in one piece and then heard her daughter and granddaughter calling her. They disentangled themselves from the rubble and moved to one side as the remaining pieces of the home crashed down exactly where she had been. All the houses round them in Upper Canefield are intact you would think the house had been deliberately demolished.
After two months squatting in an abandoned hotel with unsafe electrics and dysfunctional plumbing they are moving this weekend into a rented apartment together with their goat , pet sheep, little dog and a bus that is their income generator. They have borrowed a stove and a fridge and are sleeping on mattresses we got from the Baptist Church. However her other daughter ,who was not there at the time, could so easily have been looking back on three funerals they are just giving God thanks for life.
Meanwhile I met another family this week who are being very well looked after in the Canefield Urban Council building. Their shack was swept away from the side of the ravine. Unlike their original home, in the shelter, they have running water, electricity, food, and support from lots of "aunties" with their new born baby and toddler. I suspect they are hoping they are last on the list for rehousing. Whilst it must have been a terrifying experience they are obviously safe and sound and seeing the storm as opening doors for them to receive love and support that they would not otherwise have known.
Somewhat overshadowed by the loss if life and the helicopter rescues at Petite Savanne, The impoverished families of Good Hope and Petite Soufriere are traumatised and living in fear. I was shown very old homes completely undermined and heard stories of elderly people resigning themselves to death! Even short heavy showers could mean further landslides. The Parl Rep told me that he believes over 50% of the 150 homes in Good Hope should really be relocated. families need clothes and shoes, kitchen equipment , beds and bedding. We saw cleaning materials and toiletries being delivered in buckets which is a great idea.
<< House sent off its foundation by TS Ericka in Petite Soufriere. Many impoverished people in need of relocation......Parl Rep Johnson Drigo looking for homes for them and praying for no more landslides. I met one disabled lady in her house right beside a pile of soil and rubble....unable to walk ....we will carry her...said her daughter. --
Serious progress is being made digging out the flooded villages of Coulibistrie and Colihaut but still lots to be done. It is easy to sit in Town and forget about the serious effects of TS Erika but we have to remember and be sensitive to those people in our work places and schools who have to go back home every day to this kind of devastation. We spoke to people today who still now can't sleep at night and live in constant fear of the river invading their homes again. We need to keep these people in our thoughts and in our prayers.
We have a project to get a shop in Coulibistrie up and running again to supply the people with clean ice, frozen fish, meat, eggs and groceries. Very important for the elderly and those without transport. We need to get a chest freezer as mud seems to have got in the works of the one they had. Any ideas anyone?
Lifeline Ministries Dominica
3 Munro Street
Goodwill / Roseau
Commonwealth of Dominica
Tina Alexander, Director
Tina Cell: 767-235-8367 (also What's App)
Office Cell: 767-275-8367