Just at the end of last week, we caught up with friends in Dominica. They are living in a wasteland brought about by Hurricane Marie on 18th September. For a considerable time after the hurricane’s devastating and terrifying passage over the island, there were no communications with the outside world at all. Every radio mast, like many, many buildings had been smashed to pieces by the brute force of the wind and horrific rain.
Slowly, painfully slowly, some aspects of normality are creeping back: but nine weeks after that most horrific night the hurricane struck, the only available WiFi link in Roseau, the capital, is in the local hotel.
Our friends, who have been through experiences of previous hurricanes and tropical storm Erica in 2015, from which the island was still recovering, are extremely resourceful but this catastrophe has massively traumatized them and they are living among a completely traumatised population. Everyone has a hideous story they can tell of that night – so who will hear them amidst the devastation, the pain and the perplexity that is endemic. What does being resourceful mean in a land so full of sorrows? Dominica was a poor island before being laid waste. Its prospects are now abysmal, as every banana tree has been pulverized and the primeval woodlands, which are home to the vanishingly rare sisserou parrot, one of the few visitor attractions, has had its habitat demolished.
There are now ambitious hopes being expressed by the island’s leaders. Those are a necessary prelude to encourage reconstruction but since, after all this time, basic services have still not been restored it may be that resilience is at a low ebb. One of the very few beneficiaries of the nightmare are the local mosquitos – with all the added risk they bring to a place where heat makes the use of a mosquito net at night a stifling experience.
So I write this with a deep sense of my inadequacy to be able to convey what our friends and their neighbours have been through and are still going through. There are no words that can truly evoke the horror of it all. All I can really do is invite you to take a look at stories and pictures from the island itself. Start at http://www.lifelinedominica.org/lifeline-blog/our-familys-marie-story-part-1
Then http://www.lifelinedominica.org/ and be prepared to weep.