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Tropical Storm Erika Devastates Dominica
9/10/2015 2:55:41 PM

By Tony Best, Special from the New York Carib News

As rescue workers continue their search for about 50 people reported missing in Dominica where at least people lost their lives when Tropical storm Erika hit the island a few days ago, a relief effort is underway in New York City to help victims in the Eastern Caribbean nation.

In the drive which was launched last week-end, said Sheldon Peter, consular agent in the Dominican Consulate in Manhattan, Dominicans in the City, including the government offices are appealing for clothes, non-perishable foodstuffs and other necessities such as medical supplies, toiletries, sheets, towels and batteries.

Peter said that flashlights, candles, and other hurricane-related item were needed and could be dropped off at specific centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Mount Vernon, Long Island as well as in Bridgeport Connecticut and Newark, Hillside and Fords in New Jersey.

“We organized a storm relief effort in Brooklyn last Sunday with the support of several Eastern Caribbean Consular offices,” said Peter. “Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and our own Dominican officein the City were involved. All relief supplies collected will be shipped to the government of Dominica. We have suffered extensive damage and need all the assistance we can get.”

The Dominican government led by Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister, declared nine areas across the island as “disaster zones” and the Prime Minister said that the damage had set back the country of 72,000 people by about 20 years.

“My heart and soul grieve for those affected,” Skerrit said in a video address to the nation shortly after the tropical storm struck.

He described the damage as “monumental” and warned that it would hamper the country’s long-term development effort.

The Prime Minister said in a tweet that Dominicans were “living the effects of climate change.” Years ago, he added, “flooding in Dominica was something unheard of.” Not so any more.

In New York Dr. Vince Harewood, the country’s Ambassador to the UN and its Consul-General, Barbara Dailey, said that people interested in assisting could contact their offices for information. They can call the Mission to the UN: 212-949-0853.

Peter also said that cash donations can be made through the Dominica Prime Minister’s office’s website.

Erica caused severe flooding and mudslides in Dominica. The storm struck the country with high winds and heavy rain. Hundreds of homes, roads, bridges and other structures were destroyed, according to the Prime Minister.

“You can imagine the hell that it has been for me since I heard of the passing of Tropical Storm Erika and the damage it has done to our dear people and beloved country,” said the Prime Minister. “But we all have to pull ourselves together. We have in essence to rebuild Dominica.”

The Dominica government has declared Thursday and Friday, “Days of National Mourning” as the island recovers from the battering it took from Tropical Storm Erika that killed more than 30 people and left several others missing.

A brief government statement said that “all flags shall be flown at half-staff on all public buildings on both days” and that President Charles Savarin will deliver an address to the nation on Thursday.

“National Days of Prayer shall be held on Saturday September 05 and Sunday September 06, 2015. Activities related to the National Days of Prayer will be held at the local community level as a result of reduced access associated with the passage of Erika. A National Day Message of Prayer from the Government shall be read at all churches on the respective days,” the statement said, noting “these declarations are intended to honor lives lost as well as to offer thanksgiving”.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said that the island is continuing to receive aid and technical assistance from the international community, but appealed to Dominicans to be at the forefront of the reconstruction exercise.

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