Further to our previous notes on the damage caused by hurricane Maria earlier in the month, we have received more updates on Dominica.
Without exaggeration the island was devastated, probably the worst ever impact on a small island. Over the years Dominica has been hurt by many hurricanes, the last was Erica which was almost two years ago to the day, but Hurricane Maria took destruction to a different level. The death toll has now risen to 27, with almost double that still missing. The island infrastructure, never great even at the best of times, is really struggling. The hospital has reopened for emergencies, some roads have reopened partly, the airport and seaports are open for some badly needed imports. Virtually all of the Caribbean islands have sent much-needed assistance in the form of doctors, troops and mechanics. They will assist, no doubt, but this will be no short-term solution. From everything I have heard, Maria will set Dominica back many years, maybe even decades.
There are day to day issues of survival, and unfortunately opportunist crime such as looting and vandalism which is just compounding the problem.
My heart is telling me we should start sending travellers to the island as soon as it is sensible and practical, but my head is telling me something very different. From a professional point of view, my focus has to be solely on the safety of our clients. With this in mind, I think the soonest we can consider sending clients back to Dominica will be mid-2018, and I feel even that will be optimistic.
As previously mentioned, my colleague at Chic, Marie-Helene, has family on the island. All safe, albeit with some broken bones. These will heal with time, but it is difficult, neigh impossible to mend broken hearts and dreams when all you see before you is destruction and everything you have built has just been obliterated.
A crowdfunding relief fund has been set up at justgiving.com, should any of you wish to help Dominica in their time of need. The Dominica high commission has also set up an account for donations, details can be found on their website here.