I am hoping this might help those left behind in your decision making because it is SO SO hard to make decisions without information and bad decisions can cause you misery. First of all if you have a choice I would exit Dominica.

Let me put that in context that all of you who know me know I don’t run, I don’t quit and Dominica was our home. Do not make the mistake of thinking that what you see when you look out each morning is unique. The entire island looks like that.

The British pilots here have been flying in war zones for years, they said this is worse than any of them as the whole country is devastated. You all know the lovely phrase from Dominica “I am going, to come back” the comma is intentional.

You understand. It is the correct decision.

The rebuilding of our homeland and homes will take a long time.

We were very comfortable in the debris of our house, I could have stayed another week happily, but once we left that home zone things were bad. In our community we were also OK, people took care of us with food water and love. Lots of the latter, but once we got out of that you are on your own.

Roseau is a huge ugly mess. I was shocked at the lack of order at the ferry, lots of guards with guns inside the port but just outside the gate old ladies are getting squashed in the rush and women with babies are looking in from the sides wondering how to get through. We managed to get the old ladies and the babies through by pleading with the authorities to let them through the side gate.

Simon Walsh, Dominica
Simon Walsh was at the forefront of a relief effort that shipped 5 tons of supplies to Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma.

I asked my friend for Whitchurch, “is there room for everyone here to get on today’s ferry?”

They told me yes so I yelled to the crowd “there is room for everyone here to get on the boat, no need to rush”. This relieved us a bit at the back, but then some arsehole young guy said, “but the ferry won’t stay on the dock so those who are not through ticketing and immigration will get left behind”. So those at the front got squashed again.

Travel light. People with suitcases move slow in crowds. Take water and hide one bottle for when you are most desperate. We could not get a bottle anywhere and we gave all our water to little kids who were desperate. Take an umbrella and hats, they lock you out of the port in the hot sun and use the shady area for tickets and processing.

Don’t expect the ferry to do ANYTHING for you. You are privileged that they came to get you out. That is their attitude. We staggered onto the boat and could not get a bottle of water or any food even for purchase. Long lines, hot sun on both ends of the trip, we finally purchased the best can of cold juice ever in Martinique.

As a side note, the Chinese invaded the ferry after we were all aboard, hundreds of them and they were all going to Antiqua, so when I found this out I asked if we could go there too. You would think I was asking for a biblical miracle.

The Chinese had food, water seasickness pills, everything they needed! They looked at me when I approached them with their cases of water and I am pretty sure they were going to attack me en mass if i approached any closer. I could have taken them down but i was too thirsty.

Simon Walsh, Dominica
This is an aerial view of Simon’s home in Soufriere. Unfortunately, this sight is not uncommon in Dominica right now. Many have lost their homes.

At the ferry they separated a French family! After we begged them to a let family with a young girl, through they let the mother and 7 year old through but refused the father! He had to stay in line with the rest of us with 4 rollup carry-ons!

So please if you can get evacuated as a citizen of your country do it, it will be much easier. We have spoken to many who were helicoptered out or evacuated by boats specifically for them it was much much easier although still rough.

Take it. Drop your hammer, drop your coconut, grab the family and passports and go. Grab as much water as you can and food.

I hope this info helps. For me the worst time was the day and a half struggle to evacuate when you have left your comfort zone and resources. Good luck and see you back home sooner rather than later we all hope.

 

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