Nine disaster areas declared
Nine special disaster areas have been declared in Dominica, two days after Tropical Storm Erika, the fifth named storm of this year’s Atlantic Hurricane season, hit the island leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake.
In his second address to the nation since the passage of storm, Skerrit last night identified the areas as the southern communities of Dubique, Petite Savanne, and Pichelin; the western communities of Coulibistrie and Campbell; the eastern villages of Good Hope, Petite Soufriere and San Sauveur, as well as the Bath Estate Community on the outskirts of the capital Roseau.
Skerrit, who has been touring the affected areas, told residents the decision was taken “after broad consultation and on the advice of the Coordinator of Office of Disaster Management”.
“This declaration was deemed necessary in light of the relative severity in the loss of life and damage to property and the need for focused response, rehabilitation, and recovery,” he said.
Disaster management officials say Erika dumped ten inches of rain on the island within a six-hour period, which resulted in the cresting of rivers and ravines that lead to severe flooding islandwide. There was also extensive damage to infrastructure – the road networks, electricity and water supplies as well as telecommunication services were impacted.
The island’s main airport, Douglas-Charles Airport on the northeast, remains closed until further notice as clean-up operations are underway to clear the runway and terminal of flood waters and debris.
Skerrit said the government, along with its regional and international partners, public and private sectors as well as the civil society, is engaged in immediate response with a view to quick rehabilitation and recovery.
National Disaster Coordinator Don Corriette advised the public this morning to stay away from the worst affected communities as they are endangering their lives and also putting a strain on search and rescue teams working in the areas.
His appeal followed reports yesterday of people traveling by fishing boats to the areas that have been cut off from the rest of the island due to infrastructural damage.
“We want to advise against that. They’re exposing themselves to further danger, they are complicating matters to be very honest. We have teams from Venezuela, the fire service and the police, and we’re trying to manage the situation to the best of our ability.
“Additional people coming into the impact zone is just going to make things a little bit worse for us; we have to account for more people, we have to manage more people and we want to ask the general public to desist from doing that,” Corriette said on state-owned DBS Radio.
He also advised residents against attempting to walk from the affected areas to the capital, Roseau, saying they are putting their lives in danger as the island is still vulnerable to landslides.
“We do not want people crossing landslides or mudslides in an effort to go play hero. We understand and appreciate the emotion, we understand and we appreciate the desperation of some of us not having heard from our families but that does not mean we have to expose ourselves to further danger,” Corriette said.
This meteorological office has forecast scattered showers today and tonight, with a tropical wave expected to affect the island tomorrow and Tuesday, producing unstable conditions.
Persons in areas prone to flooding, landslides and falling rocks have been advised to exercise extreme caution as grounds are already saturated.