Sleepwalking into the Hurricane Season

Two and one half months from the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season on June 1 2018, the governing Labor Administration in Dominica is sleep walking into another potential disaster. As they have done after the devastation of Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015, the Labor Party Administration seem to view the massive destruction caused by Hurricane Maria on September 18, 2017 as an opportunity to consolidate their power rather than take care of the nation they were elected to serve. Instead of focusing on important issues facing the Dominican people they seem more concerned in maintaining power. For example, who ever heard of  non-elected constituency 'Caretakers' behaving like elected members just to increase their  prominence and enhance their chances for the upcoming general election.
The most important aspect of hurricane and disaster preparedness is to develop strategies to protect people. All other facets (protection of essential documents, securing supply of prescription medications, personal needs and pets) are secondary. So where is Dominica? What is the status of shelters? What about the public structures like police stations and hospitals?

There is no doubt that a large percentage of private homes and some business places that were damaged or destroyed will not be rebuilt before the start of the 2018 hurricane season. Fortunately, peak storm activity occurs in August and September, so there is some breathing room. There is a four to five months window in which the focus should be on building hurricane-resilient shelters and restoring and upgrading public buildings. What happened to the $48 Million EC Dollars Dominica received from the EU, of which a large portion was to be used to build those shelters?  In particular, at this time, the government's energy should be on structures housing the First Responders (Fire Stations, Police Stations and hospitals). Unfortunately, the ruling Administration in Dominica seems clueless and is mired in political shenanigans. In some communities, like Marigot in the North East, the Police Station remain roofless and there is no hospital service. This is a critical failure given the proximity of that community to the main airport, the only place where large airborne carrier can land in event of another disaster. The Main Fire Station in Roseau is a disgrace, as are the major hospitals in Portsmouth and Roseau. Why is it so difficult to get priorities in order? Immediately following the relief phase, recovery and rebuilding should have concentrated on these public entities.

Now, the political game involves distribution of building material, trying to manipulate International donors and creating another useless agency. Dominicans at home and abroad should be demanding better. Several donor countries have pledged material and financial support to facilitate reconstruction of the island post-Maria. Yet, to this day, Dominicans have no idea how much has been received. This remains a guarded secret to be dished out in increments to supporting communities, manipulated for electoral gains and apportioned to close friends and apologists. International donors should remain vigilant and guard the hard-earned cash of generous citizens on whose behalf help is being extended to Dominica. Above all, Dominicans should awake from their slumber. At the current pace, the island will be caught off guard unless individual and group effort are expedited to enhance rebuilding of damage public structures and establishment of safe, technically sound public hurricane shelters.


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