We love Dominica and our friends who live there. But until Ruth can retire late next year, weâ€™re consigned to twice-yearly month-long visits. We were chagrined on our June-July visit that the month seemed to go so quickly, and that the time away just seems to drag. And now, we expect to see damage when we return in December.
From the USA, television and Internet coverage of the hurricaneâ€™s effect in Dominica was just awful. We could spot the stormâ€™s ominous projected path on the Internet (and were relieved when the actual path was a bit more southerly). The loop was played on TV news, but the broadcasters were appallingly ignorant of geography. I sent an e-mail to one local TV station whose newscaster said that the island directly north of Martinique was Guadeloupe. And there was no storm footage or reportage from Dominica itself on any US TV network. All the talk on the TV news was about places more populous, more likely to be full of tourists, etc. It was as if Dominica did not even exist.
The only news we were able to get, in our attempts to assuage our concerns about our friends and neighbors came from Dominica on this Web site and what we could get over the phone or email. Our place is in Calibishie and we also have a dear friend of 20 years in Paix Bouche. We were able to telephone people on the bay in Calibishie and nearby in Point Baptist and in Paix Bouche two days after the storm. But telephone service up the Calibishie Ridge Road took two weeks to recover, and we learned that electricity in the immediate area of our home was out for a week. Pipe water was also out for quite some time in Calibishie, we learned, and in Paix Bouche as well, where a major pipe burst.
Our kind friends on the bay in Calibishie got a message to our dear friend and neighbor to use her key to get into our house and get the chicken out of our freezer and use it and/or give it away. Weâ€™re glad for that, for the help it may have been to people and because coming back to rotten meat would have been just awful.
Thankfully, nobody we knew was hurt. We were very sorry to learn of the tragic loss of two lives, a mother and her 7-year-old son in Campbell. Dominicaâ€™s leading author and historian Lennox Honychurch reported on the storm to friends via email, and that quickly made the rounds, as did photos of damage in some churches. The crop damage and paucity of disaster funding is disturbing news. The new banana and plantain crops will be at least 36 weeks in the future, and EC$300 per acre under cultivation isnâ€™t much to tide farmers over. I donâ€™t have data, but I doubt that there are as many as 36 acres per farmer, or individual doing the farming. There will be some hard times ahead for many families.
But we have learned that Dominicans are energetic, cheerful, optimistic, industrious people; not the type to let a storm get them down. While America with its vast resources canâ€™t make recovery happen in New Orleans, we fully expect to find when we return that life in Dominica will be very nearly back to normal. And that will make us happy too.
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