Late in the evening on Monday 18 September, the small Caribbean island of Dominica was hit by Hurricane Maria, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded. S-RM, which has a long-standing relationship with the country, sent one of our Directors (Nick Thorley) to co-ordinate our aid package. The below is a short account of his aid mission:
Due to the relief efforts already underway following Hurricane Irma, combined with the damage Maria also inflicted on Puerto Rico, there was a shortage of aid supplies, aviation fuel and cargo space in the region which delayed our arrival.
FINALLY, ON WEDNESDAY 4 OCTOBER,
I arrived with two and a half tonnes of aid, primarily in the form of 200 5-gallon buckets, which contained enough food and water for a family of five for at least 72 hours, as well as hardwearing gloves, a wind up torch-radio and other emergency items. I was met by representatives of the Dominican Government, their families and the local military who helped unload the goods onto trucks to be driven to a storage facility in Portsmouth in the north of the island, ready to distribute to the rest of the country.
“Whilst distributing the aid, TWO things struck me as truly incredible”
FIRSTLY was the level of devastation. Nearly every house has sustained some form of damage, with over 90 percent of the roofs completely removed or severely compromised. Some plots where houses used to stand were now just piles of rubble. There is no running water or electricity in most areas, with thousands of power pylons and cables lying by the roads and numerous trees felled. THE SECOND was the truly inspirational spirit of the Dominican people. Even those who had lost their houses and all their worldly possessions would say they are pretty good all things considering, adding “at least we have life!”
They are doing all they can to get themselves back on their feet, with communities coming together to help those most in need, but they still need assistance restoring power, water, roads and bridges, so please do find a way to help if you can. I guarantee they will be happy to share the Dominican Kubuli lager or a local island rum with you in thanks!