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Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA): Situation Report #11

HIGHLIGHTS: Damage and sector assessments are continuing. Preliminary estimates provided as at September 15, 2015 are as follows:

Housing

  • EC$236, 420,000

Agriculture

  • Crops – EC$13, 827,000
  • Livestock – EC$851,000
  • Infrastructure – EC$66,675,768
  • Farm housing, equipment and inputs – EC$1,515,700
  • Fishing Industry – EC$1,7500,000.

Tourism

  • EC$51,715,672 .

Water

  • EC$28,542,633

Public Works (Roads, Bridge.)

  • EC$612,700,000

Urgent needs as at September 15 are mainly for the following:

  • Housing- materials for re-building
  • Water Purification units and tablets
  • Heavy Equipment for search and recovery; cleanup and clearing
  • Health services – Sterile packs and Technical personnel (one Forensic Pathologist and two Blood Bank technicians).
  • Telecommunication Equipment to communicate with isolated communities
  • Agriculture supplies
  • Cash donations to support recovery efforts

Ongoing Regional/International Actions

Regional and international governments continue to support humanitarian relief and recovery efforts in Dominica. A summary of the support actions are provided at Annex 1 Highlighted is in this section are updates that were not previously provided in the CDEMA Situation Reports.

Through the support from the Government of Austria, a two-person technical team from the CDEMA Coordinating Unit, comprising the Emergency Operations Specialist and the Disaster Mitigation Specialist is scheduled to arrive in Dominica on September 21 to provide hands on support to the Office of Disaster Management. Areas targeted for the five day mission includeTECHNICAL SUPPORT to the Office of Disaster Management in the aftermath of Erika and the elaboration of short to medium term programming priorities as identified by the Office of Disaster Management.

The Barbados Coast Guard continues to provide assistance to the relief and recovery efforts.

The Eastern Caribbean Donor Partner Group for disaster management (ECDPG/DM) held their fourth meeting on the Dominica situation on September 14, 2015 at the CDEMA Headquarters in Barbados. The meeting received updates on the humanitarian response to Dominica and discussed the immediate recovery/rehabilitation support pledged and being provided by their various governments and donor agencies.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS) launched an Emergency Appeal on September 10, 2015. The Emergency Appeal seeks 979,749 Swiss francs in cash, kind, or services to support the Dominica Red Cross Society (DRCS) to assist 3,000 families affected by Tropical Storm Erika over a timeframe of nine months. The operation will focus on relief distributions, emergency health including psychosocial support (PSS), water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, restoring family links (RFL), shelter, National Society institutional preparedness and capacity building.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

The Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica declared nine (9) Special Disaster Areas following the devastating impact of Tropical Storm Erika across the island. During the early hours of Thursday, August 27, 2015, the centre of Tropical Storm Erika passed about 90 miles to the North of Dominica at its nearest point, with the storm producing intense rainfall across the island. The Caribbean Meteorology and Hydrology Institute (CIMH) stated that the Canefield Airport near the capital of Roseau, Dominica, recorded 12.64 inches of rain in a 12-hour period. This resulted in severe flooding and landslides and wide spread damage to housing and infrastructure throughout the island. As of September 15, 2015, the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) confirmed 13 dead, 19 missing and 20 injured. Hundreds of families from the Special Disaster Areas have been displaced as a result of their homes being damaged or destroyed or of conditions in their communities considered as unsafe.

The Special Disaster Areas are:

  • Petite Savanne
  • Pichelin
  • Good Hope
  • Bath Estate (Paradise Valley)
  • Dubique
  • Campbell
  • Coulibistrie
  • San Sauveur
  • Petite Soufriere

The Government of Dominica has established an account at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank to receive contributions in support of its recovery and reconstruction efforts.

The account details are as follows:

United States Dollars (USD)
Federal Reserve Bank (NY)
SWIFT: FRNYUS33
ECCB’s account number at the FED: 021083695
FFC Government of Dominica account 310301005

SUMMARY OF DAMAGE AND RESPONSE /RECOVERY ACTIONS AS AT SEPTEMBER 15, 2015

Casualties
As of September 15, 2015, the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) has confirmed the following

Dead, Missing and Injured

  • 13 dead, 19missing and 20 injured.

Homeless

  • 574 persons

Evacuees

  • 713 evacuated

Shelters and shelterees

  • Presently shelter is being provided for 313 persons and there are 52 persons registered at family homes.

Affected population

  • It is estimated that 7229 persons are affected in the disaster Declared areas

Damage and sector assessments are being undertaken by the various government ministries.

SOCIAL SECTOR
Housing

A detailed assessment of the housing stock is currently underway. However, preliminary estimates of damage is estimated at EC$236,240,000. Initially, it was reported that 271 houses were either damaged or destroyed of which 217 were in Petite Savanne and 54 in the rest of the country.

Health

The Ministry of Health activated its Emergency Response Plan and Health Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) following the impact of Erika.

Three (3) hospitals and all health centres are operational. Some of these facilities are relying on tanks for the supply of potable water as access to piped water is not available.

PRODUCTIVE SECTOR
Agriculture

Crops, Livestock land and fertile top soil have been destroyed as a result of the flood waters and landslides. 600 acres of Bay leaf have been compromised and the distillery has been destroyed. Additionally, access to farms and farm lands have been hampered due to washing away of bridges and roads to these locations. There are grave concerns for the welfare of farm animals in areas such as Petit Savanne. These animals are without food and water.

Preliminary assessments estimate the losses as follows:

  • Crops – EC$13, 827,000
  • Livestock – EC$851,000
  • Infrastructure – EC$66,675,768
  • Farm housing, equipment and inputs – EC$1,515,700
  • Fishing Industry – EC$1,7500,00 – EC$1,775,000.

Evaluation of the losses to the Agricultural Sector is continuing.

Tourism

Preliminary assessment of the Tourism Sector has indicated damage in excess of EC$51,715,672

INFRASTRUCTURE
Water

100% of the national water system was affected and the estimated costs to water and sanitation sector is EC$28,542,533. The Dominica Water and Sewerage Company Limited (DOWASCO) restored approximately 60% of the water systems by September 3. Some areas north of St. Joseph, along the west coast are without potable water and water is distributed by tanks to these areas. There is need to increase the distribution of water to affected areas to cut down on the distribution of bottled water. Disposal of the empty bottles is likely to pose an environmental concern later on. Two water purification units were presented to the environmental Health Department for distribution in the areas affected but there is a need for additional purification units and water purification tablets.

PAHO has provided a water sanitation expert to work with DOWASCO to assess the quality of water on the island.

Electricity

Power was disrupted across the island but has been restored to most of the areas. Areas that are still without power include parts of CheckhalL Valley, Boetica and Delices.

The Dominica Electricity Services (DOMLEC) has stated that for safety purposes some homes will have to be re-certified before power can be restored.

Public Works (Roads, Bridges etc.)

Roads and bridges were significantly impacted and resulted in many areas being marooned. The preliminary damage estimate to roads and bridges stands at EC$612,700,000 million as of September 2, 2015. Transportation links have been restored to many areas island. Some areas were again impacted following the passage of two tropical waves over the period September 11- 15.

LIST OF URGENT NEEDS AS AT SEPTEMBER 15, 2015

Housing

  • Building materials to help with the reconstruction efforts

Water and Sanitation

  • Water tanks
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Water Purification units

Health

  • 5000 sterile packs (high priority)
  • Air Ambulance to transport sick patients from areas still cut off from the rest of the island

Technical Personnel

  • Two blood-bank technicians (high priority)
  • One Forensic pathologist

Recovery

  • Search, rescue and recovery equipment including boots; duffel bags with medical supplies. (This need has been partially met.)

Communications

  • Telecommunication equipment is required to communicate with persons in isolated communities. The provision of 15 Satellite phones and 4 BGANs has increased the ability to communicate across the island.

Clean up and clearing

  • Heavy equipment (tractors, excavators) – Consideration to source from nearby islands

Agriculture

  • Large supply of fertilizer (farm inputs)
  • Animal feed

REGIONAL ACTIONS COORDINATED THROUGH THE REGIONAL RESPONSE MECHANISM
Activation of Regional Response Mechanism

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency activated the Regional Response Mechanism to provide a coordinated humanitarian response to Dominica. This facilitated the deployment of technical personnel and resources from the CDEMA Participating States to support search, rescue and recovery efforts, the National Emergency Operations Centre, damage and needs assessments and distribution of relief supplies. The activation of the RRM also allowed for the channeling of coordinated efforts of regional and international governments and donor partners through the Eastern Caribbean Donor Partners Group for Disaster Management. This Group is co-chaired by CDEMA and the United Nations Resident Representative to Barbados and the OECS.

The RRM was deactivated on Sunday, September 6, 2015 as the country began its transition from response to recovery and rehabilitation.

ONGOING REGIONAL ACTIONS
TECHNICAL SUPPORTto Office of Disaster Management

Through the support from the Government of Austria, a two-person technical team from the CDEMA Coordinating Unit, comprising the Emergency Operations Specialist and the Disaster Mitigation Specialist will be deployed or a five (5) day duration from September 21 – 25, 2015 to provide on the ground support in the aftermath of TS Erika. Areas targeted for the five day mission include technical support to the Office of Disaster Management in the aftermath of Erika and the elaboration of short to medium term programming priorities as identified by the Office of Disaster Management.

PLEDGES AND SUPPORT

For detailed updates please refer Annex 1 Summary of Pledges and Support as at September 15, 2015.

CONTACT DETAILS: The CDEMA CU 24-hour contact number 1(246) 434-4880

Zouk in the Park Set for Mount Rainier Nature Center Sunday, September 27, 2015

Make plans to attend this year’s Zouk in the Park. This free event will be held at Mount Rainier Nature & Recreation Center in Prince Georges County, MD on Sunday, September 27th from 3p.m. to 7p.m. The nature center has live animals, educational displays, a game room, and an outdoor playground. The facility is located near West Hyattsville Metro at 4701 31st Place, Mount Rainier, MD 20712.

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Festival goers will experience the infectious beats of zouk music, which originated in the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Today it is very popular in Haiti, St. Barts, French Guiana, St. Martin, St. Lucia, and Dominica.

Zouk is also popular in Belgium, France, Quebec, Canada and French speaking countries in Africa (such as Guinea, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Benin, Niger, Congo, Cameroon, Togo). Cape Verde & Angola enjoy Kizomba & Cabo-Zouk, typically sang in Portuguese. In South America, Lambada zouk is gaining increasing popularity in Brazil.

Salsa fans will love zouk! Everyone is welcome to have a great time while listening and dancing to the rhythmic tunes of Francophone music at Zouk in the Park. At this African and Caribbean French music event, attendees will be treated to an amazing line up of classic and contemporary tunes and beats. A diverse playlist of music will be played to showcase this very fun and melodic style of music. Among the various genres set for the ultimate francophone music event are Soukous, N’Dombolo, Makossa, Kompa, Cadance, Coupe Decale, Mbalax, Afropop and even Kizomba, Semba, Tarraxinha and Cabo-Zouk.

Like ZoukFest, at “Zouk in the Park” there will be activities for kids on the playground, food for purchase, and arts & craft vendors. Bring the family, lawn blankets, and picnic chairs.

LuvZouk encourages your support of Dominica in the aftermath of tropical storm Erika. About 15 inches of rain fell on the mountainous Caribbean island of about 70,000 people on August 27th. Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a televised address, “damage inflicted by the storm set the island back 20 years.” “The extent of the devastation is monumental. It is far worse than expected,” he said, adding that hundreds of homes, bridges, and roads have been destroyed. “We have, in essence, to rebuild Dominica.” Airports were left inoperable, and some communities remained isolated by flooding and landslides.

Donations will be collected at the event to aid in Rebuild Dominica’s relief efforts.

For more information about “Zouk in the Park” and other great zouk music events in the greater Washington DC area, visit www.LuvZouk.com.

A Case for Improved Soil and Land Use Management in Dominica

Dominica’s national motto “Après Bondie C’est La Ter” meaning “after God is the land” highlights the importance of the land (the soil) to Island. The amount of precious top soil eroded by the torrential rains during the Erika disaster may never be quantified or featured among all we have lost. Nonetheless, losses incurred due to landslides and soil erosion and the subsequent impact on communities and livelihoods highlight the need to elevate the importance of soil and land use management in Dominica.

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The 68th United Nations General Assembly declared 2015 as the International Year of Soil. A primary objective was to raise awareness among civil society and decision makers of the profound importance of soils for human life. As a non-renewable resource, its preservation is paramount for food security and our sustainable future.
Soils are not merely parcels of uniform materials. Instead, they are units with characteristics that change vertically downwards through different layers and horizontally in every direction. Therefore, to describe a soil it is not sufficient to only look at the surface, a vertical cut or boring must be made and the different layers from the surface to the parent material (underlying rock) carefully examined.

The soils of Dominica were classified by Mr. David Lang over 40 years ago. His work provides general descriptions of the major soil types, soil forming processes and includes several important recommendations for land use planning and agricultural development. Mostly, the soils are formed by the weathering of volcanic rock. The weathering process results in the formation of clays and secondary minerals. However, the unique properties of the respective soil types are based on the underlying rock and as influenced by environmental factors, rainfall patterns, topography, vegetation and the extent of weathering.

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The physical and chemical characteristics of our soils, suitability for agriculture and other land uses are largely dependent on the type and quantity of clay they contain. For example, soils along the west coast between Jimmit and Tarreau dominated by Smectite clay minerals are noted for their shrinking and swelling properties. They shrink and crack considerably when dry and expand when wet. This activity is responsible for the cracks and movement frequently observed in the paved roads in that area. The Smectoid clays differ from soils on the north east, around Marigot, which are dominated by Kandite clay minerals. Kandoid clays are generally highly weathered (older), appear reddish to red-brown, are well-drained and better suited for agricultural development.

Several studies have investigated the mechanics of landslides in Dominica. The steep slopes, high rainfall and high water holding capacity of our soils are some of the factors that predispose many parts of the island to landslides. While heavy rainfalls are common in Dominica, it is the prolonged precipitation at high intensities, as occurred with Erika, which is capable of causing serious destruction from landslides.

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Efforts to rebuild Dominica must be focused on building resilience and adapting to climate change impacts. Soil conservation and land use planning based on available technologies and the findings and recommendations generated from scientific studies (most of which already exist) should guide policy decisions and inform activities at the farm and community levels. We must also rely on the practical experience of individuals who have continued in the traditions of our forefathers, by stabilizing slopes with deep rooting crop and forest trees, bamboo and vetiver strips and who willingly adopt the approach that some extra work now can set the foundation for a sustainable future.

Davidson Lloyd (PhD)