Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit broke down when discussing the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in Dominica. The prime minister described the “merciless nature of the wind” of Hurricane Maria that has caused “unprecedented” damage to the island. He said, “I’ll tell you how serious the situation is… I am also homeless, as the prime minister of the country.” The PM also stressed that Caribbean countries are very vulnerable because they are exposed to the ravages of climate change.
An emotional Roosevelt Skerrit has been speaking to ABS Television/Radio in Antigua in his first interview since the category five hurricane made a direct hit on the Nature Isle. He confirmed that 15 people are known to have died – and all have already been buried – and at least another 20 are missing. WIC News sources on the ground said this morning that they know of at least 24 deaths. The fact that hundreds have not died is a miracle, the prime minister added, and a clearer picture should emerge tomorrow.
Dominica “is going to need all the help the world has to offer” he said, after earlier shedding tears when describing the carnage. “Every village in Dominica, every street, every cranny, every person in Dominica was impacted by the Hurricane. We have no running water now, we have no electricity, we have no power, we have very limited telecommunication services… private homes have been damaged, some beyond any form of repair, all flat on their faces. Many of our schools have been destroyed.”
Flow and Digicel, the country’s main telecom providers, have experts on the ground working to get reliable service up and running again. The country’s main hospital has had to operate without any generator due to flooding and the situation was labelled as “worse than in a war zone” by Skerrit.
“We are running, really, an archaic system. Everything has to be manual. The dialysis system machines are down because of the roof [which was torn off] and no electricity. Any patients who need critical care, we have to airlift the person because the ICU has been completed destroyed by the hurricane. This is one of our major concerns.”
Medical assistance is just one of the aspects for a country that needs help with. Food, water, roofing materials, lumber, plywood, windows, doors, nails, water containers, communication equipment, tarpaulin, energy biscuits, water purification kits, baby supplies and generators are among those listed by the prime minister as essential items that would be welcomed. Water, tarpaulin and baby supplies are in need in every village he as visited, he told the interviewer, and relief material would begin reaching people from today.
The world was rallying around the country, but he stressed that Dominica will need a large number of helicopter services to airlift the supplies to stranded communities, and urged anyone who could supply such a service to come forward.
Skerrit announced that, despite initially having “no intention” of travelling, he would be going to New York City tomorrow to address the United Nations General Assembly. “[I will] speak to the international community [and] have meetings with the UN Secretary-General to outline Dominica’s situation and how we believe the international community can assist us. We will not leave any stone unturned. We all have to play our part as Dominicans – there can be no differences whatsoever. We have all been impacted and we can only make life better for ourselves if we work together.” [. . .]
When asked what the world can learn from the atrocious effects of Maria on Dominica, Skerrit was clear.
“We are very vulnerable. We are exposed to the ravages of climate change and we need access to resources to be more resilient societies and countries. We play out part but the extent of the resources required to put in the mitigation systems is beyond us.”
[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]
Watch the 36-minute interview by ABS Television/Radio Antigua here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enoWiiHVgNU