(On Thursday Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit led a tour of affected areas, San Sauveur and Petite Soufrière by boat)
Members of the head table at “Update to the Nation: Government response in the East/Southeast of Dominica” (l-r) Press Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dionne Durand-Smith (Moderator); Prime minister, Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit; National Disaster Coordinator at the Office for Disaster Management (ODM), Fitzroy Pascal; Bernard Ettinoffe, Manager of the Dominica Water and Sewage Company (DOWASCO) and Bertillia Mckenzie, Manager of the Dominica Electrical Services (DOMLEC)
A press conference convened for the purpose of updating the public and the media “on the interventions on the way by the government of Dominica and further actions planned to bring relief to the affected communities in the east and southeast of Dominica who were recently affected by a trough system, took place on Thursday, ” according to Press Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dionne Durand-Smith who moderated the conference.
The multi-stakeholder briefing was led by Prime Minister Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit. Also at the head table were: Director of the Office for Disaster Management (ODM), Fitzroy Pascal who provided a report on the effect of last week’s trough on communities along Dominica’s east and southeastern coast.
Also in attendance was Bertillia Mckenzie, manager of the Dominica Electrical Services (DOMLEC) who described the company’s efforts to restore power to the affected areas, as well as Bernard Ettinoffe, Manager of the Dominica Water and Sewage Company (DOWASCO) who reported progress in the water restoration. Other government contributions came from Lucien Blackmore, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of public works and the Digital Economy who addressed the issue of the clearing of roads and, as well as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Chandler Hyacinth who gave an update on the impact of the disaster on education on the ministry’s schools in the eastern district.
A village mourns
“We stand in solidarity with his family and the entire community.”Prime Minister Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit
Prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit in his opening remarks underscored that the recent trough had inflicted serious land slippage and damage to property, both private and public. The Prime minister offered his personal condolences and on behalf of the government and the people of Dominica to the family and friends of Mr Henson Durand, and by extension the people of Petite Soufriere. Durand was the sole fatality attributed to this disaster. Prime minister Skerrit said, “we stand in solidarity with his family and the entire community.”
(Above) Henson Durand of Petite Soufriere (Credit: Emonews)
Prime minister Skerrit reported on his findings from a personal tour of the disaster stricken-region, said that he visited from Atkinson to Kalinago Territory, Castle Bruce by land, and on Wednesday, he visited San Sauver and Petite Soufriere. “Traveled by boat to San Sauver,” he said adding, “ it was not for the faint-hearted…the Atlantic side was rather choppy, and we had to transfer from the Coast Guard vessel to a fishing vessel to get on shore, and the transfer was a bit challenging,” he said.
Skerrit said that the it was important for him to personally tour the area to assure the communities affected that government is with them. According to the Prime minister, it was also important for him to oversee the government’s response thus far. “Because we had mobilized medical supplies also water and food supplies for distribution in San Sauver, Good Hope and Petite Soufriere. Unfortunately I couldn’t get to Good Hope because of two major slides.” he said.
The widespread environmental destruction that the Director of the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) in Dominica, Fitzroy Pascal said resulted in “50 to 60 landslides along the east coast.”
Prime minister also took the time to commend organisations that responded to the event. He thanked the heavy equipment operators who he said have been operating under very challenging circumstances. “But their intrinsic motivation has kept them going as it is the practice of us in Dominica, when we are faced with an adversity, “ he said. Of the management of the The National Emergency Planning Organisation (NEPO), the Office of Disaster Management (ODM), the ministries and permanent secretaries of whom Skerrit said, “have been exceptional in the government’s response in those communities.”
Prime minister Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit addresses residents during a tour of the affected areas of San Sauveur and Petite Soufriere. [ Photo] Roosevelt Skerrit
Photo shows land slippage in the area destroying the road network [ Photo: Roosevelt Skerrit]
According to the Prime Minister, the entire east of Dominica will need extra government support. “We are looking at the entire east: Delices, La Plaine, Boetica, Morne Journe, Riviere Cyrique, Grand Fond, the whole of the Kalinago Territory, Atkinson, Antrizzle, the whole of the Castle Bruce constituency. From Castle Bruce down to Petite Soufriere, all of these areas being looked at, he said. In the meantime, the government is providing food and water supplies to these communities, and a doctor will be posted in San Sauver to provide care to anyone who may need care. He thanked the teachers and principles for their efforts to keep the educational sector running despite the adversity affecting the region, “Our schools in the east which have been affected will receive water and food supplies, “he said adding, “ In times like these, access to school is paramount.”
The prime minister also announced that a package of measures to provide income support to families in those areas has been decided, “ Farmers have been affected. They have not been able to access their farms, those who have access to their farms, have not been able to take their produce to the farms, so we will be supporting these people. Bus drivers have not been able to make a daily bread, because the roads are cut off, and we shall be reaching out to them, The shopkeepers, some have acted as good samaritans and have provided groceries and supplies to their neighbour, which is commendable, I know of one guy, “he said, “whose shop is now empty because, he gave out everything in the shop to the people. And that is the spirit that we want to continue to have in our country. That we are truly our neighbor’s keeper, and that in times of distress we can work together to make like better for all of us at least a little more safe,” he said.
On Tuesday the prime minister led a tour of government officials and the media to Castle Bruce, and on Thursday visited the communities of San Sauveur and Petite Soufriere. On his Facebook page on which he posted that The Government of Dominica has received a detailed update on the extent of damage caused by last weekend’s heavy rains which resulted in flooding, landslides and the loss of life, and shared photographs of that mission.
The Prime also announced that discussions have begun with the view of relocating residents from hamlets cut off from Petite Savanne, as well as at Dubique which he said are vulnerable to similar occurrences in the future. “The road that we constructed there was completely washed away, and to create access there is going to be a challenge. And even if you were to create access to those hamlets, in the long term it’s going to be a challenge, “he said adding, “We have started discussions within the government, and I have also shared this with the residents who I have met. Because I spoke to quite a number of them during visit to San Sauver and Petite Soufriere, that we have to look at relocating. Relocating the Petite Savanne way, and relocating the Dubique way. We have done this before and we can do it again. We are now looking at possible locations, safe locations to build new communities. Many of them have met and told me ‘this time we shall move,” he said.
EmoNews (2022). Available at: https://www.facebook.com/EmoNewsDominica (Accessed: 12 November 2022).
Roosevelt Skerrit (2022). Available at: https://www.facebook.com/SupportRooseveltSkerrit (Accessed: 12 November 2022).
Williams, A. (2022) A trough system has left one man dead; 60 landslides, and marooned villagers along Dominica’s east coast | Sunday, ALBERT WILLIAMS Reporting. Available at: https://albertwilliams.tech.blog/2022/11/11/a-trough-system-has-left-one-man-dead-50-landslides-and-marooned-villagers-along-dominicas-east-coast/ (Accessed: 12 November 2022).