from September 6, 2015
We are finally back on Dominica and mostly in one piece. Ben is with us and Miriam is in Antigua with Dylan until Friday. Hopefully the ferry will be easier for them than for us. Upon arriving Ben's case went astray and our cars won't start. We’ve discovered that our landline phones are water damaged. (I can be contacted via my cell phone: 1-767-235-8367) …and that our basement is full of water. And the cat is missing! These small challenges aside we’ve hit the ground running.
As soon as my phone was within range of Dominica! I heard from a couple of folks via Facebook. They were in trouble and had only just got internet back. The villages near them, Petite Savanne and Dubique, had been evacuated after 27 people died in multiple landslides. Roads on both sides of them are gone and their neighbours at Jungle Bay Resort left after it was damaged beyond repair. The owner had been injured and his wife was sick and barely coping with the children. We were able to get in touch with the authorities who went in by helicopter with a doctor to provide medical care; they followed up in getting medication to them. One business man is providing a free ATV service where where normal vehicles cannot get through to deliver stuff. Whilst away, I have spent a lot of time on Facebook connecting people and supporting.
Delices. The whole of Delices village is cut off and God knows how they are going to have a road again. It is even worse than when Harry was a boy, as now to get across Boetica River one has to hang on a rope and swing like Tarzan. Roseau is recovering although two bridges are out of use! Three foot of mud has been dug out of the streets and we can buy food and supplies for specific families and take it for the helicopters to drop. Pastor St. Louis who is still going strong (although even before he looked rather fragile, and I hope he has enough insulin and can keep it cool!) has to climb to a high place a couple of miles from his house to get cell phone reception. Landlines are down probably for good! I do not know how he will charge his cell phone once his car runs out of gas. The helicopters are dropping food and water and medication but the folks have to collect wood for cooking and rainwater for drinking. We will try to source generators and water filters in the medium term. The secondary school children who would normally commute to school have been told to find families to take them in near Roseau.
Petit Savanne Evacuees. Over 400 families are homeless. 217 from the community of Petite Savanne . They are evacuated to the Grammar School. We are looking at how we can use our current girls group and women's group to befriend evacuated teens and give them some normal activities. Imagine what it must be like to have lost family members, your home and your whole environment. The PM has said he will beg funds to rebuild these people’s houses, but their land which has been theirs for generation is gone, along with their school, clinic, and their granny’s house. It is a bit like having a small farm in Cornwall and being moved to live on Gascoigne Estate in Barking. It is like being in a war but everyone around you is getting back to normal and you …you have nothing but appalling, shocking memories of holding your drowned or crushed relatives.
The West Coast -- is now accessible by 4WD to get round the several bridges that were washed away. Coulibistrie DuBlanc and Colihaut are terribly damaged by mud and sand and still need food and water by sea and St Joseph, Layou and Mero have a lot of recovering to do and the road is gone beside Layou River. Better report on those you know to follow. Castle Bruce is also cut off and Calibishie and Woodford Hill and Marigot without water.
What can be done? And, what is ours to do?
Counselling -- I have been asked to help with the Insurance Company Staff and the Bank staff groups as part of their employee assistance programme, and so will run Crisis Mitigation Group sessions as well as individual counselling for those who want it. This should be paid which is nice! I am also mobilizing our Victim Supporters to broaden their remit and be available to those referred by the police. I will have a meeting with them ASAP; some of the members of the infant Dominica Psychological Association may join in.
Delivery and Transportation -- Harry's Boat is intact and no doubt he will be desperate to get it back in the water and to try out his new seafaring gear a friend bought him. I must take a picture; he looks like an advert for fish fingers! He will see what he can do to help with deliveries and transport.
Teams I have being contacted by a church who wants to send a team to help; I will be discussing with them how disaster management could work. The Brits have sent a ship with 150 sailors who are helping with the dig out and trying to restore the water supply. The Baptists have building teams that can come but, I think I will be looking at bringing in folks to help with people's emotional and spiritual needs. A bit like what I saw from the Ukraine Trip, and seeking to encourage long term relationships.
Long Term I was already looking at a Bolt-a-block initiative with an investor, which is a new way of building houses quickly without cement and so will try to put the suppliers in touch with our Urban Renewal Minister and Prime Minister. This could boost the economy if we could make the blocks here.
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