ROSEAU, Dominica – Regional governments and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) are stepping in to help Dominica after Tropical Storm Erika’s heavy rains wreaked havoc on the island, causing flooding and landslides that resulted in at least four people losing their lives and tens of millions of dollars in damage.
As many as 30 people are also reported missing, and presumed dead, in the northeastern and southeastern areas of the island which was devastated by the storm that passed Wednesday night and into Thursday and is now headed towards the Dominican Republic.
Nearly nine inches of rain fell overnight on Wednesday, resulting in severe flooding, mudslides, washed out roadways, and causing the collapse of bridges and several buildings.
The main Douglas Charles Airport was flooded and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says "tremendous work will be required to restore it to usefulness".
The Dominican leader, who did a helicopter tour of some of the areas hardest hit by the floods, wrote about the road ahead, in his regular Facebook and Twitter updates.
"It is going to require a lot of financial resources, based on the reports thus far, to rebuild. We will have to redefine our priorities now to focus on critical needs," he said.
This morning Skerrit asked residents to help with the clean-up effort.
He stressed that the immediate focus is on the search and rescue effort. Once that is completed, the task of repairing Dominica’s "dramatically affected" infrastructure will begin.
CDEMA confirmed that the Dominica government had requested assistance in search and rescue, medical support and damage assessment and the agency would be sending in teams by today.
"The CDEMA Coordinating Unit (CU) has notified the relevant response teams for deployment to Dominica . . . Air transport has also been requested to assist with reconnaissance, search and rescue and medical evacuation, and is prepared to deploy once more favourable flying conditions arise," it said.
The teams will include the CARICOM Operational Support Team (COST), CARICOM Disaster and Assessment Coordination Team (CDAC), and the CARICOM Disaster Response Unit (CDRU) through the Regional Security System (RSS), Regional Search and Rescue Team and medical resources through PAHO.
"Additionally, CDEMA CU is receiving support from the Central and Southern Sub-Regions, led by Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago is providing a helicopter and medical teams; Barbados, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are proving personnel to be deployed as part of CDAC and COST teams. Antigua and Barbuda has indicated that it two teams are on standby to provide support for search and rescue operations," CDEMA said.
Skerrit said Venezuela is also providing two helicopters to assist with the search and rescue efforts.
CDEMA added that regional partners are also providing support.
PAHO teams are on standby for deployment to assist in hospital assessment and medical services, UNICEF has pledged relief supplies inclusive of hygiene kits, water purification tablets, and tents, and the Association of Caribbean Police has contacted it members and asked that they be on standby to provide any assistance as necessary to affected countries.
Skerrit has expressed thanks to those regional governments, including Trinidad and Tobago which is just over a week away from general elections, for their assistance and well wishes.