Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit will fly out of Dominica today, October 10 at the helm of a regional fact-finding mission bound for Haiti and The Bahamas; the two Caribbean countries hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew last week.
The Prime Minister Mr. Skerrit is the current Chairman of CARICOM and, as such, leads the region’s first response effort to assess the level of damage and destruction wreaked on those sister member states of the regional integration and economic movement.
Prime Minister Skerrit will be accompanied from Dominica by Government’s Advisor on Disaster Management, Cecil Shillingford, and will be joined, en route to The Bahamas by CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin Laroque, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency—CDEMA Ronald Jackson, and other technical staff.
The Dominica Leader was the first to officially acknowledge the devastation and announced last Friday, in an address to the nation, the establishment of a National Hurricane Matthew Disaster Relief Effort, to be spearheaded in Dominica by the private sector.
PM Skerrit recalled that just over one year ago, Dominica was ravaged by the passage of Tropical Storm Erika and that it was CARCIOM member states and wider hemispheric partners that came to Dominica’s immediate assistance. He appealed to the private sector of Dominica to be proactive in lending support, suggesting that he wanted Dominica to be in a position to dispatch help to Haiti and The Bahamas by this weekend.
Since that address by the Prime Minister, the death toll in Haiti alone, has risen to close to 1 000, and it is feared that this number will continue to rise, given that several areas are still not accessible to rescue teams.
Bahamas on the other hand, suffered considerable damage to its road and housing infrastructure. The Dominica Leader also said in his address that he would be paying close attention to the impact of Hurricane Matthew on the United States of America.
Businesses and individuals in Dominica who want to contribute to the national appeal effort have been advised to liaise with the Office of Disaster Management, the Red Cross or other such agencies, and to make their initial pledge, followed by actual donations during the course of this week.
Prime Minister Skerrit is expected to update the nation and the wider region on his observations and interactions with his Haitian and Bahamian counterparts, on his return from the disaster stricken nations.
Meantime, Haiti has declared three days of national mourning for victims of Hurricane Matthew.
Last week, the category 4 storm destroyed tens of thousands of homes in the Caribbean poorest country leaving close to 900 dead.
About 60,000 people were in temporary shelters , many thousands are without electricity and water.
A cholera outbreak is the next big concern many in Haiti celebrated mass in the open yesterday, as their church building were destroyed.
France and the US have pledged to send assistance.
The Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal for $6.9M and UNICEF said it needed at least $5M to meet the immediate needs of $500,000 affected children.