On Monday morning 23 residents of Dominican-heritage landed on the hurricane-ravaged island to check on family and friends.The group along with 126 passengers from Antigua travelled aboard the ferry MV Lovely 1 which had also been loaded with relief supplies.
Dominica was struck by Hurricane Maria, devastating all of its agriculture, reducing homes to rubble and limiting communication with the outside world.
Yolander Royer, who coordinated the Montserrat relief effort for Dominica said her first view of Dominica as the boat arrived, looked as if a fire had gone through and burnt all of the hills. “Every house in Canefield, the roof is gone,” she told Basil Chambers on the morning radio show.
As was done for Anguilla, after it was critically affected by Hurricane Irma, the people of Montserrat contributed with food and other supplies to send to Dominica. The Montserrat Red Cross as well as the Dominica Association on island spearheaded the efforts. Other residents have also been contributing to the account opened at the St. Patrick’s Cooperative Credit Union for Dominica’s Hurricane Relief.
Credit Union Manager Peter Queeley said more than 4100 dollars had been collected as of Monday, October 2. Queeley has also been an outspoken advocate for the government to cover the costs incurred by those who chose to travel to Dominica to see about the welfare of their family and to bring others out. Each passenger paid a total of 535 dollars for the trip and will have to pay 150 for each person who returns with them on the ferry.
Jasmine Jno Baptiste, was one of the residents who returned home to check on her family and to take supplies to her community there. She has been sharing her experience on her Facebook page.
“I was told, ‘prepare for this mentally Jasmine’ but in truth I wasn’t. My heart has fallen at my feet and I am still trying to pick up the pieces – my beautiful country has now been disguised as a war zone. Driving/walking through the streets of Dominica you realise that the pictures and videos that you see circulating do not nearly depict the reality of the situation. Maria has striped Dominica of it’s beauty and the residents who remain, although trying to adapt as best as they can to their new surroundings often question their strength – who feels it knows it. This will take some time, to even get back to simple normalcy but, Dominica shall rebuild,” she wrote.
Joseph Espirit, a GOM Public Works employee travelled to Dominica to check on his father, who he had not heard from since the storm. Sadly when he landed, he was met with the news that his father had died and had already been buried as there is no where to store dead bodies.
Electricity, water, internet and food are in short supply for the island which has been the Bread Basket of the Caribbean. The generosity of Dominican communities across the globe has been keeping the spirits of people alive in what is a very challenging and traumatic season.
Royer said “the spirit of the people is still jovial.” However, it is often made more difficult as many have not received relief supplies. She said for those who are unable to travel to where the supplies are, it is tough as not much is coming to them.
The ferry is scheduled to leave Dominica on Wednesday night.