It was only a tropical storm, not even a hurricane. But the disaster that Tropical Storm Erika visited upon Dominica is profound. The exact statistic escapes me but something like 15 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. The land could not hold it, and so fell away in muddy slides of doom.
Jungle Bay, destroyed.
Rivers, of which Dominica has hundreds, swollen beyond capacity, their surging waters washing away crucial bridges that stitch the roads together.
Petite Savanne in the southeast evacuated by sea & helicopter, the saturated slopes towering above the village unstable, potential waves of mud death.
Thirty dead, more missing.
They say that Victoria Falls has fallen.
|Approaching Victoria Falls, January 2011|
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit surely doesn’t exaggerate when he says that the country has been set back decades by this catastrophe. I remember reading in the Caribbean Handbook from the 1990s, Dominica was considered undeveloped, a throwback island, the land where time more or less forgot.
In the late ’90s and the early aughts, the travel party line was that “the Nature Isle” was up and coming, a destination. Visit now, everyone said, because it’s going to change quickly.
But no one anticipated this.
Update 3 from the government website. This is ongoing, and soon this update link will be out of date. Time marches on. The island will recover. Families will mourn their losses, and go on. As we all do. But that does not lessen the tragedy of Now.
Please give. Money helps sometimes. This is one of those times.