Dominica Prime Minister Skerrit Says Cleanup Progressing, Much Aid Still Needed

Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addresses the press, Sept. 25, 2017/Photo: YouTube
Dominica Prime Minister Skerrit Says Cleanup Progressing, Much Aid Still Needed

“We are attacking this from the air, from the land, from the sea. We are really trying to get as much supplies to people as possible,” Skerrit said.

Dominica is making progress in the reconstruction and cleanup process after the destruction brought by Hurricane Maria, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told members of the press.

The minister thanked the volunteers both national and international who have helped in every community, bringing food, water, medical supplies and going so far as to cook hot meals for hurricane victims in remote communities.

The head of state said Dominica has received aid in the form of relief supplies as well as security personnel from its Caricom partners, Venezuela, Cuba, Morocco, China, the U.K., and France, among others, but stressed the still- present need for food in some of the furthest regions of the country.

Skerrit said the administration has opened a credit with Barbados and will continue to receive a steady flow of relief supplies from the neighboring nation.

“What we are seeking to do today is to launch a massive offensive in the distribution of food, supplies and water to every single community,” the minister said, adding that additional help from helicopters and ground assistance will help get the work done faster.

“We are attacking this from the air, from the land, from the sea. We are really trying to get as much supplies to people as possible,” Skerrit said.

He said the minister of public works will be engaging groups to work together, clearing the roads. He explained those interested in participating will be paid and already the U.N. has contributed US$3 million to the effort.

“All teams are working,” the minister said, reassuring those communities who are still without water that he has arranged for trucks carrying water tanks to visit the areas while reconstruction of waterways continues. Network and electricity companies have also been enlisted and communities should have access to both utilities as early as Tuesday.

Skerrit told the press that already many of the major highways have been cleared, with others scheduled to be completed by the end of the week.

“The medical teams have been exceptional, under the circumstances,” Skerrit continued. “Not having power in the hospital and being able to provide that level of care to our patients is exceptional. It speaks to the character and the resilience our people.

“Over the next couple days, this country will have lots of food and supply and the intention is to get all of it to people in the quickest possible way,” he added, saying that Dominica needs everyone’s help in this time of need.

The prime minister also said that following the passage of Hurricane Maria, the island witnessed a spike in crime and “massive looting” from some residents. According to the Dominica Police Chief Daniel Carbon, there have been 48 arrests from looting alone.

“Several young men and ladies — we could call mobs — we’ve seen around the city,” Deputy Police Chief Davidson Valerir told press members, “Many of them were searching the premises and were looting from the premises. Primarily businesses places. We were able to put the situation under some level of control and quell the problems that were emerging from the looting.”

According to Dominica’s police chief, there have been 27 confirmed dead, 27 confirmed missing as well as 18 persons believed to be missing.

Maria has been the second major storm to the Caribbean in as many weeks, after Hurricane Irma.

Rescue workers and medics from Venezuela and Cuba are operating in some of the most isolated zones on the island. These areas, which include small towns and forest villages that have been totally destroyed, are mostly disconnected from the capital of Rouseau.


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