In Canada and the northern United States, hurricane season affects us only inasmuch as it impacts our holidays down south. This year however, hurricane Erika hit very close to home. On Thursday, August 27th our office manager Joyce Green posted this plea on her Facebook page.
Lord Please keep my family safe! sister Rosie Robin and Wendy Robin Rocko, Tyiose , Cap and Evan please watch over each other!
I called the office and found out that her little island of Dominica was ravaged by Tropical Storm Erika and she had yet to hear from her parents who were vacationing there as well as her siblings. Later on that morning it was all over the news and social media, the devastation was huge the airport alone was under four to five feet of mud and I watched dumbfounded as huge waves washed onto the mainland leaving chaos and destruction in their wake.
The island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic), is a small Caribbean island nation northwest of Martinique. Only 750 sq. feet in size, largely covered in rainforests and home to the second largest geothermal hot spring in the world know as Boiling Lake. Dominica is the second poorest island nation in the region, it boasts few exports and an underdeveloped travel industry and this, coupled with the fact that it is located within a hurricane region makes Dominica particularly vulnerable.
Hurricane Erika claimed the lives of 32 people, wiped out the airport, displaced the inhabitants of two villages, and destroyed the Bay Leaf Oil industry, and caused approximately $1B in damage, which accounts for approximately half of the nation’s GDP. Many of the displaced people are older, in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, who have only known one home their entire lives and they now have nothing. In the village of Petite Savanne, 538 residents were evacuated among them Athenia Darrous 68, she had never seen this much destruction from a hurricane in her lifetime, “ All what we have spent years building in the community is gone. The bay oil cooperative just exploded and killed all those who were working. It’s just a sad day for us in Petite Savanne and we will never forget that event.” Frances Del Sol of the Trade and Investment Commissioner for Dominica in Toronto is worried, “Imagine the stress these elderly people are under they have nothing, and now have to start from scratch it’s unthinkable.”
Joyce’s story has a happy ending, yesterday her parents finally got a fight out and came home, and her siblings are safe and well. Not everyone was as fortunate however, and the relief effort needs our help. The Oasis Clothing Bank has decided to dedicate the month of September to collecting among other things, clothing, non-perishable food stuffs, personal hygiene products, batteries, flashlights, lamps, and work gloves for clean up crews. Please drop off all donations to our office at 60 Carnforth Rd. Toronto, On.
For more information on the Dominican relief effort please go to www.cdoaweb.com/tropical-storm-erika.php