Dominica’s Minister for Housing, Lands and Water Resource Management, Reginald Austrie has appealed to Caribbean States to assist the island, as its people continue to rebuild their lives following the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.
On September 19, the ferocious storm made landfall as a Category Five Hurricane with winds of 160 miles per hour (260 kilometres per hour), killing 15 as it ploughed through the country, damaging the infrastructure and water systems.
Minister Austrie, in an address at the opening of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), on Monday evening noted that 70 per cent of water systems on the island was totally destroyed. He, however, observed that 50 per cent of water access was restored.
He told the gathering that flooding was still affecting the island, noting the rivers and waterways were already compromised. He added that almost all of the nation’s agricultural supply was lost which was a far cry from the times when the island was virtually self-sufficient in terms of food security.
“Over 85 or 90 per cent of our housing or infrastructure was damaged, but knowing the resilience of our people, we have started putting the pieces together. There has been tremendous support from our regional and international partners. We have done quite a bit in the last three weeks,” he stated.
He cautioned that Caribbean States must implement more measures to ensure that the nations were ready to stand against the impacts of climate change, observing that much of the disasters emanate from “man-made elements”.
Among some of the other needs, he cited, were potable water tanks, generators, welding plants, treatment plants, solar panels, and qualified engineers. Mobile phone, radio and Internet services were all damaged during the hurricane. Apart from Dominica, Maria affected Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States.
With Category Five winds and rain, another hurricane, Irma completely devastated Barbuda and also affected jurisdictions such as St Maarten, St Barts, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and the British Virgin Islands.
Chartered flights have been used by Government to transport Guyanese returning home, especially from the island of St Maarten. Charity cricket matches have been planned to raise money for relief.