Death toll from Tropical Storm Erika rises to 20 in Dominica; PM says damage worse than expected

Roseau, Dominica — Twenty people have been confirmed dead in Dominica, following the passage of Tropical Storm Erika, but that number could increase as more than two dozen are still missing. And Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says the damage to the country is worse than he anticipated and could set back the country’s development by two decades.

Most of the dead were residents of the southeastern village of Petite Savanne, which was the hardest hit.

All across the country, bridges, roads and buildings collapsed under Erika’s heavy rains.

Skerrit, who toured the island by helicopter yesterday, said in an address to the nation last night that the devastation was worse than expected and some communities were “no longer recognizable”.

“The extent of the devastation is monumental. It is far worse than expected. It is true that many communities like Petite Savanne, Delices and Coulibistrie have been swamped and are still cut off from the rest of Dominica, but nearly every community has been hit. There is extensive damage across our small island after floods swamped villages, destroyed homes and wiped out roads,” he said.

“It was a harrowing experience for me to see suffering on such a grand scale. My heart and soul grieve for you.”

The Dominican leader added that he feared the damage he say yesterday has set back the country’s development process by 20 years.

“I will not attempt tonight to affix a dollar value, but it is substantial,” he said.

“You will recall that in my most recent Budget Address, I informed the nation that Dominica was able to register real growth of 3.4 per cent in 2014. This was no doubt due to the heavy investments we have been making in infrastructural development since 2000. Most recently we have upgraded the Douglas-Charles Airport, developed the highway leading from this airport to Roseau, and upgraded the Roseau to Portsmouth highway. Now Tropical Storm Erika has inflicted heavy damage to these key facilities and a range of secondary roads that are essential for efficient communication and boosting our export drive.”

Skerrit said a special Cabinet meeting, to which he had invited all 21 elected MPs, would be held today. Those parliamentarians, he said, would form a national reconstruction advisory committee.

Help has been coming for Dominica from individual CARICOM countries, as well as regional agencies, including a US$200,000 Emergency Relief Grant from the Caribbean Development Bank and regional airline LIAT which is adjusting its schedule to operate an additional 29 services into Guadeloupe over the next week to facilitate movement into and out of Dominica.

Effective today through September 5, several changes have been made to the LIAT schedule.

The Dominica government has also established an account at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to receive contributions in support of its recovery and reconstruction efforts following the passage of Tropical Storm Erika.

The account details are:

United States Dollars (USD)
Federal Reserve Bank (NY)
ECCB’s account number at the FED: 021083695
FFC Government of Dominica account 310301005

British Pound Sterling (GBP)
Bank of England
ECCB’s account number at Bank of England: 40920003
FFC Government of Dominica account 310301005

Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt
Favour: Crown Agents Bank
Account No: 9608217
IBAN: DE35500700100960821700
ECCB’s Account Number at Crown Agents: 33792403
FFC Government of Dominica account 310301005

Canadian Dollars (CAD)
Bank of Canada
ECCB’s account number at Bank of Canada: 30641-1
FFC Government of Dominica account 310301005

Eastern Caribbean Dollars (XCD)
Government of Dominica BIC code GVDMDMDM
For Government of Dominica call account 310301005

Prime Minister Skerrit pledged that Dominica would be rebuilt in honour of those who lost their lives.

“In the hours and days ahead, respective Parliamentary Representatives will be meeting with families to discuss and formalize arrangements for burial of those who succumbed, as well as to help provide adequate care for the injured. Local, regional and international agencies have already deployed representatives in the field to assess and evaluate damage and determine the nature of relief and assistance that would be forthcoming,” he said.

“In a nutshell, to all impacted by this tragedy, help is on the way!”

Skerrit called on Dominicans to help each other and also made a national appeal to “member nations of the OECS and CARICOM, friends of Dominica across the world, as well as regional and international donor agencies, to help in whatever way they can”.

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