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Dominica begs for more help

Published: 
Thursday, September 21, 2017
8 dead, rescuers fear more bodies may turn up
Is There Not a Cause (Itnac) members Roland Lewis, left, and Kevon Ceasar stack cases of water bound for Dominica at Itnac’s headquarters in St James yesterday.

Eight people have been confirmed dead while scores of others were still unaccounted for in Dominica up to late last night following the passage of Hurricane Maria. A state of emergency is also in effect.

According to information reaching the T&T Guardian, a 68-year-old woman was confirmed dead and four others are feared dead in Dos D’Ane. Reports suggest the missing four people may have been swept away by a river during Maria’s passage on Monday night. It was reported that there was another death in Morne Prosper.

Information out of the island is being relayed by members of Dominica Amateur Radio.

Initial reports from ground surveys by officials showed 95 per cent of roofs gone in the Mahaut and Portmouth areas while 95 per cent of roads throughout the island were said to be blocked by debris.

Principal Advisor to Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, Hartley Henry, who spoke to Skerrit via satellite phone early yesterday morning, said: “Dominica is in a daze…no electricity, no running water - as a result of uprooted pipes in most communities and definitely no land line or cellphone services on island, and that will be for quite a while.”

“Skerrit and family are fine. Dominica is not!! Tremendous loss of housing and public buildings. The main general hospital took a beating. Patient care has been compromised. Many buildings serving as shelters lost roofs, which means that a very urgent need now is tarpaulins and other roofing materials,” Henry said.

Henry added that he was told by Skerrit that little contact had been made with the outer communities, but people who walked ten and 15 miles towards the city of Roseau from various outer districts reported total destruction of homes, some roadways and crops.

At the moment, the Canefield airport can accommodate helicopter landings and it was expected that from last evening the waters around the main Roseau port would have been calm enough to accommodate vessels taking relief supplies and other forms of assistance to the island.

Skerrit, who was expected to visit some rural areas yesterday, feared the death toll would also rise. He added, however, that what’s urgently needed are roofing materials for shelters, bedding supplies for hundreds stranded in or outside what’s left of their homes, food and water for residents of outlying districts who are inaccessible at the moment.

It is said that the Tarmac at Mellville Hall (Douglas-Charles Airport) was not too badly damaged and it was expected to be opened tomorrow (Friday) for larger relief planes to land.

“The country needs the support and continued help and prayers of all,” Henry said.

This morning, the T&T Coast Guard’s TTS Moruga is expected to dock in Dominica carrying 41 members of the Coast Guard and T&T Regiment.

The combined team is expected to provide assistance in several areas as well as deliver relief supplies to the island.

Official sources yesterday confirmed that the National Helicopter Service also transported technical experts from St Lucia to Dominica with the goal of re-establishing some communications infrastructure.

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