(Trinidad Guardian) Dominica is in urgent need of heavy equipment to clear “thousands of tonnes of debris,” roadways and landslips that continue to hamper relief efforts.
That’s the word from Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt who told the media yesterday that “progress is being made one day at a time,” but he said it will be a “long journey back.”
Despite the devastation of the hurricane, he said, the government had met its commitment to pay salaries for the month of September, “it was an extraordinary effort and I also met with the Minister of Finance to ensure that we meet legal obligations on loans.”
He said he intends to meet with creditors “on where we are and how we treat with those matters going forward.” The government, he said, had been in discussions with the World Bank “a major partner and we have received US$65 million for reconstruction so far,” he is hoping that figure will increase to US$100 m or more and plans to hold discussions with World Bank officials next week.
Skerritt said while some roads had been cleared “there are lots of landslides and thousands of tonnes of debris to clear.”
The challenge facing the government, he said, is the insufficiency of heavy equipment, but he said: “the government has been in negotiations with operators from the region and we are hoping that by next week we will have a massive fleet of heavy equipment to assist with the clean-up.”
Local organisations which have been providing relief in Dominica admit that there has been a challenge getting supplies to some communities.
ITNAC: We are in it for the long haul
Avonelle Hector from the group Is There Not a Cause (ITNAC) told the T&T Guardian “a number of roads are still blocked and impassable.”
The group, she said, had been sending constant supplies to the island “via the Coast Guard, by air, we are sending on almost every available vessel leaving Trinidad and Tobago.”
In addition to supplies, she said, the group had sent in medical teams and “we also have trauma people going in.”
ITNAC had been working alongside the Dominican authorities and she said: “the authorities are pleased with our work.”
She said when members of the team went to “Salsbury we were told by people there we were the first to bring food and water supplies to them and that was two weeks after the hurricane.”
The group will send another barge this weekend loaded with more supplies.
But Joseph said they are in it for the long haul, “this is not just about sending food and water to meet immediate needs we are seeing this as holistic and we in this for the long haul, we will be there to help people rebuild their lives and return to a semblance of normalcy.”
She said they had compiled a registry with a list of people locally who are willing to take Dominicans who want to come here into their homes.
A similar registry has been compiled by the Living Waters Community whose founder Rhonda Maingot told the T&T Guardian that several people have come forward and are willing to take in Dominicans. She said Trinidadians has been “fantastic and the response overwhelming to the situation in Dominica, we have just completed packing another three 40-foot containers to leave to Dominica today.”
Many on the island, she said, still have no water, and no electricity “there are few cars on the road and when the containers get there off-loading is a problem. You have to offload boxes and put them into vehicles to send to the communities.”
Unlike ITNAC, Living Waters is not working with the government but with the Roman Catholic Church on the island. She said they had already sent “five people who are on the ground in Dominica to assist and more will go next week to assist.”
Maingot said people whose homes are still structurally sound “are trying to secure areas they can stay in so if it rains they will not get wet, they are trying to secure wherever they can and the next part is rebuilding.”