On Monday Sept 18th Hurricane Maria (Category 5) made a direct hit and ripped through my beautiful island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). Although no one can fully prepare for a Category 5 hurricane, residents had less than 48 hours to prepare and were initially given a hurricane warning for a Cat 1 or 2. After pounding the island for more than 6 hours, with sustained winds of 160 mph and torrential rains, all that is left of this beautiful island is total devastation; 95% of the roofs are gone in some areas including the main hospital and rampant flooding exists around the island. My immediate family members have all been accounted for but the official death toll is 15 (unofficial numbers are closer to 50).
Dominica is a small (289 sq. miles) independent nation which has to rely on the international community and the diaspora in the wake of a crisis like this. There is no agency like FEMA that can assist. According to CNN reporter Michael Holmes, this is one of the worse situations he has seen in his years of covering natural disasters and war zones. There is hardly any food or water on the island – emergency supplies previously in storage had been shipped off to assist neighboring islands affected by Hurricane Irma which hit the Caribbean chain just the week before.
In my home village of Coulibistrie there was very little wind damage, however flooding from the river was worse than that from Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. Some houses are now fully covered with mud and silt while others have been washed away. No lives were lost as folks evacuated to higher ground.
Sadly, the people of Coulibistrie were still in the process of rebuilding after Erika. The village of about 300 is agriculture based with an aging population. These are hardworking folks who have had their livelihood and shelter taken away from them not once but twice in the past 2 years.
Dominicans are resilient so we will rise from this however it is going to take some time; not months but years. In the meantime, I am personally appealing for your help to bring a bit of hope to the folks in my village. No donation is too small. Note that any donation received will go directly to the village of Coulibistrie. I will personally ensure that this happens as I did for Tropical Storm Erika.
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