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From Under de Mango Tree – Day 0

Under de Mango Tree

A Memory of Maria – Day 0

Maryann asked me why did I start my memory of Maria with the aftermath? The short answer is that the experience is too unbelievable to describe well.

Sufficient to say that being in a long tunnel with a very large speeding freight train full of empty loose barrels banging around is the closest I can come to the sounds. My most vivid memory of Maria, who visited at night, was sound. Howling roaring angry sounds.

Day zero began with clear skies but developing wind strength out of the North West, which is 180 degrees opposite to normal wind direction. We were told that a Category 1 or 2 Hurricane was in our vicinity, so we began preparations.

First priority was taking down our large 260 watt solar panels. They were packed between mattresses and cushions on our spare bed. Down came all pictures and wall hangings, and everything on the veranda deck was stored inside.

We were told that a Category 1 or 2 Hurricane was in our vicinity, so we began preparations.

All our windows do not have hurricane shutters, so the ones that did were secured. Our shutters are jalousie style, and they were closed. A quick walk around the house to ensure that nothing loose was laying around, and we were good to go.

We were more focused on our supply of Eldorado rum and in having copious supplies of ice, than in what was coming our way. After all, how much of a big deal was a near miss by a Cat 1 or 2 going to be. At around 5PM, our son CJ texted us that Maria was a Cat 5 and heading directly for Dominica.

Holy Shit! This could not be happening. Too late to consider alternatives. Misinformation was rampant. We were told that Maria would pass up the Martinique channel, and now we were in her path.

Off our bedroom is a small walled in laundry room. Maryann moved a table and 2 chairs into the room which was the closest to a secure room that we had. We sipped on Eldorado and listened to the sounds, in total darkness. Water rose around our feet. The gaps between doors and floors had been blocked up with towels to keep water out, which meant that the water spraying in sheets through our jalousies had no way to exit. We were helpless, frightened, and there was no way we could tell what was happening around us.

Holy Shit! This could not be happening!

A crescendo of banging noises forewarned us that all was not well with our galvanize sheeting. With flashlight In hand I occasionally examined our ceiling which appeared to be standing up. 11:34pm we had our last texts from our sons, who told us to “hang on, the eye is over you now”. Thereafter all communication was lost. We were alone, and running on instinct.

Maryann was a real trooper and stayed awake, but submitting to exhaustion, I crawled into a wet bed and fell asleep. Shouts from Maryann soon had me fully awake. She had been walking past the French doors to our seaside veranda when Maria exploded them open.

I found Maryann leaning against the French doors, which buffeted and banged her about. Maryann was totally drenched, and hanging on for dear life. A sense of anxiety overwhelmed me at our condition. With hammer, nails, and bed slats, it took us half an hour to nail the doors shut. In the period that I had been asleep, the winds had shifted 180 degrees and were barreling out of the South East.

Securing the French doors was the worst part of the experience. Sheets of sea water mixed with sand, gravel, and leaves, propelled at gusts up to 200 mph, simply took our breath away. Furniture, fridge, etc, was physically lifted and slammed against the far walls. We simply did not consider the French door glass panes shattering and shredding us, until the doors were again secured. What propelled us to take such a risk?

I am a fatalist, and accept things as they happen. Very soon my bed beckoned, and donning a reasonably dry bathrobe, I succumbed to sleep. Not so Maryann, who only joined me in bed at about 3:00 AM, when the winds violence had noticeably diminished. We were both cold, wet, and totally exhausted when we finally succumbed to sleep.

One LOve.

About Cyril Volney:

Cyril VolneyCyril Volney is a retired banking professional and a proud Dominican. He is also a family man and comes from a lineage of distinguished individuals. Cyril now lives with his wife of 40+ years at their home in Wesley, Dominica.


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From Under de Mango Tree – A Memory of Maria

Under de Mango Tree

A Memory of Maria

It has taken me over 4 months to find the courage to write about our Category 5 Maria experience. Everyone has their stories. Mine are no different but I share with you as part of my healing.

The day after, we opened our front door after sloshing through the water, leaves, mud, and sodden personal effects that carpeted our home at Eden on Sea, Wesley, Dominica. Broken trees and piles of branches were everywhere. Our gate was torn down on one side and hung precariously from the gate post on the other side.

At our front door is a pink hibiscus tree and it was completely stripped of all leaves. Aphids had given us a hard time in the months prior to Maria, and we had repeatedly sprayed the tree to get rid of them with little success. Maryann regarded the tree, and her first words to me were “now would be a good time to spray for aphids”.

A call greeted us, and looking up we saw walking towards us, cutlass in hand, that champion of a friend, Mr. Julien Jeremy.

Jeremy, as we affectionately call him, had walked down our 2500ft “labou” road to check on us. “Well, you will not be going anywhere soon” was his comment. We were totally blocked in, as our 500 ft cedar canopy was piled 6ft high on our access road. “Wesley is gone” was his stark comment.

Our main roof sustained minor damage to the corners where galvanize had lifted, but the 20x10ft veranda roof was gone. Our interior walls and ceiling were covered with mud and leaves. Brown replaced green on the landscape, and our trees; those that survived; had no branches.

First order of business was to sweep water, mud and leaves out. Maria had broken our seaside French doors open during the night and entered with a vengeance. Our after storm morning was spent sweeping water out and then applying a mop with little avail. Muddy floors would be a feature of our lives for the next 3 months.

Luckily, we had removed the 3 solar panels from their aluminum frame the day before Maria. Next on the agenda was re-installing the panels, but first we had to locate one side of the frame which had been blown away. We cleared a path through broken branches and the frame was soon located halfway up a cedar tree 100ft away, and in good shape. One hours work to secure the frame, another half hour for Maryann and I to attach the panels, and magically we had electricity.

One LOve

About Cyril Volney:

Cyril VolneyCyril Volney is a retired banking professional and a proud Dominican. He is also a family man and comes from a lineage of distinguished individuals. Cyril now lives with his wife of 40+ years at their home in Wesley, Dominica.


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WATCH: President Bill Clinton’s Press Conference in Dominica


The Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative and the government of Dominica will launch a partnership to assist Dominica with an integrated resource plan for the energy sector.

The plan goes hand in hand with Prime Minister Roosevelt’s early announcement of making Dominica the world’s first climate resilient country.

About the Clinton Foundation

Clinton Foundation imageThe Clinton Foundation (founded in 1997 as the William J. Clinton Foundation), and from 2013 to 2015, briefly renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation) is a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code. It was established by former President of the United States Bill Clinton with the stated mission to “strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.” Its offices are located in New York City and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Through 2016 the foundation had raised an estimated $2 billion from U.S. corporations, foreign governments and corporations, political donors, and various other groups and individuals. The acceptance of funds from wealthy donors has been a source of controversy. The foundation “has won accolades from philanthropy experts and has drawn bipartisan support”. Charitable grants are not a major focus of the Clinton Foundation, which instead uses most of its money to carry out its own humanitarian programs.

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President Bill Clinton Arrives in Dominica

President Bill Clinton in Dominica (2)

Former US President Bill Clinton has arrived in Dominica to view the island’s ongoing recovery efforts in the wake of last year’s hurricane. He landed at the island’s main airport at around 9:00 AM local time.

He will also visit the US Virgin Islands, which was struck by Hurricane Irma. He visited Puerto Rico last November.

“Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Caribbean community are in need, and we must answer that call,” Clinton said. “Together with leaders from government, business, and civil society, we can demonstrate what is possible when we come together and bring our collective will and resources to bear on this crisis.”

“We have a responsibility to act, for the people who are still suffering, and for all the future generations in the region.”

Clinton has also announced that his foundation, the Clinton Foundation, will be launching an Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery at the invitation of the leaders of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Antigua & Barbuda, and Dominica. This after meeting with leaders from these countries earlier this week.

Presient Bill Clinton in Dominica (1)
Former President Bill Clinton meets with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and Mrs. Melissa Skerrit (Source: Roosevelt Skerrit’s Facebook Page)

The Action Network will formally convene for a meeting on 3 April at the University of Miami, where stakeholders will continue to work towards Commitments to Action to address the on-going immediate response needs, as well as the long-term recovery in the region. This Action Network builds from the successful Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) model, where leaders from across sectors convene to mobilize resources and implement solutions to addressing pressing global challenges.

Last week, Clinton hosted a planning meeting to catalyse new work and build on existing work that is already helping in the region.

A diverse range of officials from the region detailed the needs on their islands, and met with business and philanthropic leaders to start planning commitments.

President Clinton described development of several new Commitments to Action to be announced at the April meeting, including the rebuilding of schools and homes in Dominica, the installation of solar equipment at primary care clinics in Puerto Rico, and the distribution of remote Zika testing for pregnant women across the region.


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[VIDEO] ‘Everything Gone!’ A Short-Film about Hurricane Maria


Following the devastating Hurricane Maria that hit Dominica in September 2017. Sherrie Eugene-Hart and 3 of her sisters, Corinne, Gean & Paula returned to the island and made this film on an iPhone.

Would you like to help? Donate here > www.helpdominica.co.uk


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[VIDEO] What Dominica Looks Like in 2018 – Mystelics Vlogs


Mystelics Vlogs on coming back to Dominica and then looking at different places around Dominica. What does Dominica look like in 2018, 4 months after Hurricane Maria.


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[VIDEO] Display of Cultural Dance in the Bronx

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Positive Notes from Positive People #35


What a fantastic day. Our Christmas shopping outing which Laurie and I do each Christmas for the children in Sultan. WE go to Roseau we give them all each some money to buy a present and this year we went to Perky’s Pizza.

These children lost their homes in hurricane Maria and have been badly emotionally battered, they have not been able to go to school l this last term. What a terrific privilege and pleasure to be able to take them for a fun day out. It was lovely. The children were so excited they all went to bed early so the morning would come quicker!! We love the children.

The day started with a rainbow and me in my red Christmas dress.

By Lisette Stevens



















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Positive Notes from Positive People #34


Have breakfast two hours later today than your usual Sunday time. Use that two hours to look closely at the empty dining table, absorb the quietness of your house, your neighborhood.

What if you were not here in body today? What if you were a victim of hurricane maria?

Be thankful for life. Be thankful for family. Be thankful for friends. Be thankful for your employer(s). Be thankful for your customers. Be thankful for peace. You could have not been here in body today.

Give thanks.

By Alex Stephenson


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New Flight Cage for Rescued Parrots

Parrots one step closer to release

After a week of arduous work and heavy rain, IFAW’s Disaster Response team successfully finished repairing the flight cage! Simoné and our other feathered friends are now one step closer to their release back into the wild. The flight cage provides adequate space for the injured parrots to regain their flight strength and endurance.

Posted by International Fund for Animal Welfare - IFAW on Friday, December 8, 2017

After a week of arduous work and heavy rain, IFAW’s Disaster Response team successfully finished repairing the flight cage! Simoné and our other feathered friends are now one step closer to their release back into the wild. The flight cage provides adequate space for the injured parrots to regain their flight strength and endurance.

A big thank you to the IFAW team for the continued help as we work together to conserve the Dominican Endemic Parrots. – Machel Sulton

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on social @IFAWEU and Facebook/IFAW.


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Optical Services Ltd – Open for Business!


Dear Valued Customers,

We extend our sincerest condolences to those of us who have lost loved ones, empathize with those of us who have experienced damage to homes and businesses, and look forward to rebuilding our beautiful Dominica.

*Please note our temporary post-Hurricane Maria hours:

9:00am – 2:00pm Monday – Friday
9:00am – 1:00pm Saturdays

Lost or damaged glasses due to the Hurricane and/or purchasing new glasses before the New Year?

Ask us about our Maria discount!


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My journey back to Dominica after the hurricane – The Guardian


This year the Caribbean experienced its most destructive hurricane season in decades. While large countries dominated the headlines, the small island nation of Dominica suffered the worst devastation it has ever seen.

Josh Toussaint-Strauss visits his family in the country and asks, with next year forecast to be worse, how Dominicans see their future.


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When was this photo captured?


Answer this question correctly and your name will be entered into a draw to win a copy of one of my photo-books, ‘Majestic and Magical: Come Explore the Nature Isle’. To participate, please leave your answer in a comment below. 

When was this photo captured? BEFORE or AFTER the passage of Hurricane Maria?

This contest will run for one week (it ends Wednesday 20th December, 2017 at 7:59 AM). Only one response will be allowed per participant. If you leave more than one comment, only your first comment will count towards the draw.

Please share this post with your friends and family who care!


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“The Only Woman I Could Not Handle” – Poem by Monelle Alexis


*This poem contains strong language and words that may offend. Please be guided accordingly. Thank you!

The Only Woman I Could Not Handle

I wanted her. 
Everything about her captivated me. 
Her slow strides, the size and shape of her eyes. 
How she commanded attention everywhere she went. 
She was the object of my attention. 

So compelling, I gave my last in preparation for our union.
Just get me wet I thought. Soak me from where I stand
And shake me in the right places.
Blow me.
Oh… how I long to feel that trembling sensation.

She only wanted me at night.
Where her performance is at its peak
And I’m sure to be left wonderstruck.
Ahh, just my luck.
I love a woman who can handle me.
One who knows how to get dirty.
Bringing life to my fantasy.
Eagerly, I strapped up and left my door unlocked. 

Excitement filled my room.
Heated romance penetrated my mind.
Raw unapologetic thoughts.
Knock, knock.
She was at my door.
My lips remained sealed.
I wanted her to feel it’s forced entry.
I wanted to proceed as the vigilante.
It echoed through my home then a loud Bang! 
She whipped my door in anger.
Hmm…She likes it rough!
I eased forward,
Gazed upon my ready state 
Then layed on my back.
With lips in their resting position
Only making motion in anticipation for her arrival.

She released my door from its hinges
Shattering windows and cracking walls.
I know she likes it rough
But didn’t anticipate damage to my stuff.
I braced myself.

She moved swiftly through my bedroom door.
I saw her
My heart lost its rhythm
And senseless utterances escaped me.
She was in my home naked.
Uncontrollable passion.

I screamed for her to stop
But her sexual energy grew from my aggression.
She enjoyed fucking me
But she was more than I could handle.
I released myself from her grasp and went in hiding.
Praying, that she would not find me.

She removed my ceiling to increase visibility.
Fear consumed me.
She ravaged my belongings, 
Forced herself into every room hunting me.
She wanted more of me.
Yet I could not give more of myself
She would be the death of me.
I remained in a crippled state, absent sound until she left my home.
Then like a baby i crept out from hiding.
Fuck you Maria!!!

About Monelle Alexis

Monelle is a teacher at the Dominica Grammar School, host of Vibes Radio’s Lovers Rock and hails from the community of Portsmouth. She is no stranger to the stage as has been known to act, host events and perform poetry and songs.

Monelle is an active reader and she is passionate about writing. She has written numerous poems dating from 1998 to present. The last piece she wrote is called ‘The Only Woman I Could Not Handle’.  It was written on a bus as she journeyed from the capital to her home in Portsmouth. She recalls laughing aloud and smiling while she wrote that piece. She is confident that the reader will be kept on his toes from start to finish. Monelle is pleased to share her piece with the world and she welcomes your feedback!



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Forestry Division Staff Praised for Commitment to Clean-up Efforts


The Botanic Gardens in Roseau, Dominica, was once known as the finest botanical gardens in the Caribbean Region. It was severely damaged by Hurricane David in 1979 and was devastated once again by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

Here are a few photos of the Botanical Gardens from the day after Hurricane Maria (September 19th, 2017):

Botanical Gardens, Dominica
© 2017 Yuri A. Jones
Botanical Gardens, Dominica
© 2017 Yuri A. Jones
Botanical Gardens, Dominica
© 2017 Yuri A. Jones

Since then, staff of the Division of Forestry, Wildlife and Parks has been hard at work to clean up and restore the historic location. And what a great job they’ve done!

This caption was posted to the division’s Facebook page recently:

The Division is extremely proud of our staff who are in the process of cleaning up the Bontanic Gardens in Roseau. Keep up the great work guys you are vital in the rebuilding of our great country!!!

These are the photographs that accompanied the caption. They tell a beautiful story of hard work, restoration and hope.

(All credit for these images goes to the Division of Forestry, Wildlife and Parks.)


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How to Deal With Debt After a Natural Disaster


Taking care of your financial health after a natural disaster is one of the most important household priorities. One of the main concerns arising after Hurricane Maria is the service of existing debt along with the accumulation of more debt. It will not be easy addressing these concerns and frustration may ensue. For those unemployed, it is imperative to manage cash and debt. There may be difficulty in acquiring a loan from the banks.

Create an Emergency Fund

For those still employed, reset your priorities and make some sacrifices. We all realize the importance of having a cash security in the event of unexpected situations. You may follow any of the saving plans posted to the page. An emergency fund should have a value of at least sic (6) months of all major expenses.

For those unemployed, analyze your financial position and if possible, set aside a reasonable amount that will assist you in the upcoming months. There is no certainty that you will regain employment in the short term, therefore safeguard yourself and your family against upcoming expenses.

Be Mindful of Loan Deferrals

The financial institutions and lending agencies have offered clients a few months’ payment deferrals in order to assist with finance management. However be mindful that interest on loans will continue to accrue. That means, upon the new due date, the client has to pay the accrued interest as well as the present month installment. If you are in a position to continue loan payments, please continue to do so. You would not want to incur financial disaster when the new payment is due. If you choose to defer the payment, set aside some cash monthly that will contribute to the upcoming payments.

Do Not Abuse Credit Cards

As with loan deferrals, please not that interest of credit cards continue to accrue. The banks have an obligation towards VISA & MASTERCARD to pay the fees, therefore it is difficult to waive the interest due. I understand the need for cash in the short term however, be wise to minimize the use of credit cards. Only accumulate debt which you are able to manage in the short term.

Bills and Creditors

Ensure all utility bills are up to date. Also visit any creditors to update or request a change in payment plans. Do not let your bills accumulate as this may lead to financial instability in the long term. If possible, sign up for a POSTPAID cellphone plan as this will help manage one of the most common recurring expenses.

About Finance Focus

Finance Focus serves as a medium to help individuals realize their financial objectives. Advice will be provided on personal finance including budgeting, investment strategies, savings and available financial products. Financial news will also be discussed.


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Positive Notes from Positive People #33


Post Maria Experience: The bus stop was empty, it was becoming dark, it was drizzling, many mosquitoes were out to play and there were 12 persons at the bus stop without roof needing to get home.

After several minutes and mosquito bites, here comes a bus with the back seat filled with goods and only 6 seats available.

The words and thoughts of everyone was, ‘Not me that staying down tonight!’

For at least a 25 minute ride I sat on a piece of seat. I’ve never been more thankful for my 1/8 seat which allowed me to reach home safely!

By Lizra Fabien


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Positive Notes from Positive People #32


In Roseau today!

First time that Roseau has felt normal. We drove right into Roseau no hold ups truly like normal! I even managed to get into Astaphan’s car park no trouble. It is the first time town has felt remotely normal.

We are very luckily in our friends place using the WiFi, they have electricity and it is so nice to be here in comfort. Also catching up with everyone. Happy Creole weekend to all Dominicans everywhere!

By Lizette Stevens


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New ‘Emergency Cash Transfer’ Program – UNICEF

UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Deputy Representative, Muriel Mafico (left) with Helen Royer, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Services, Family and Gender Affairs

UNICEF Eastern Caribbean is pleased to announce that earlier today we signed a Program Document with the Ministry of Social Services, Family and Gender Affairs (MoSSFGA) in Dominica for the implementation of an emergency cash transfer program to support the immediate needs of 6,000 of the most vulnerable children affected by Hurricane Maria. The Program is part of a partnership between UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP) and MoSSFGA, and it aims at reaching the country’s most vulnerable households and raising the capacities of the country’s social protection system to respond better to future emergencies.

As part of the program 8,300 households will receive an unconditional cash transfer for a period of 3 months with the specific aim of contributing to adequate access to food. Additionally, the program will also support the immediate needs of 6,000 of the most vulnerable hurricane affected children by providing unconditional cash child grants for the same duration. UNICEF is also providing technical assistance and accompaniment to the Ministry to support the implementation of the cash transfer.

About UNICEF Eastern Caribbean

The UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Area Office is located at the UN House in Bridgetown, Barbados. The Office is responsible for Programmes of Co-operation with the governments of Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and the Turks & Caicos Islands.



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The Region Must Adapt to Climate Change – CARICOM Secretary General


New York, United States (November 21, 2017) – Resources the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is mobilizing to support reconstruction of hurricane ravaged Member States is intended for them to build back smarter and better, against the existential threat of climate change.

Secretary-General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said that intention was in “full knowledge that we are into a new era,” when hurricanes have now become “game changers.”

He was at the time speaking at the opening of Technical Consultations at the CARICOM-UNDP High Level Pledging Conference, earlier this morning (20 November) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The two-day event is to mobilize national governments, regional organizations, international development partners, private sector, and civil society to support the construction of what can become the world’s first hurricane resilient countries.

Reminding the stakeholders of the hurricane devastation, Secretary-General LaRocque said two category five hurricanes in two weeks, and one, Maria, going from a category 1 to a category 5 in less than 36 hours, was a signal of a dangerous change in the intensity and frequency of climate events.

“The Region must therefore adapt to this reality. Time is not on our side. The next hurricane season is seven months away,” he stated.

He reminded that the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, at their 21st Meeting (COP21) in Paris, December 2015, agreed to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2° C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5° C.”

September’s hurricanes have proven that 1.5 is critical to Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States (SIDS) which are highly vulnerable to climatic hazards.

The Region must therefore adapt to this reality. Time is not on our side. The next hurricane season is seven months away.

He said that since the Paris Agreement Caribbean scientists have carried out studies to explore the consequences of both a 1.5 and 2.0 degree Centigrade warmer world.

“They have found that given the current trend, the 1.5 target will occur within the next decade, much sooner than previously anticipated. With 1.5, the scientists are predicting generally harsher climatic conditions for our Region.”

Emphasizing the urgency of resilient reconstruction he said: “We must prepare for the next catastrophic hurricane, flood or drought. We must therefore be climate resilient in time for the next event.”

He said the Community has been taking steps to embed resilience in its planning with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) led Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Strategy 2014-2024, to continue its role as the Caribbean’s platform for achieving risk resilience.

The strategy embraces key sectors such as Agriculture, Tourism, Health, Education, Finance, and Physical and Environmental Planning. Additionally, it places increased focus on harmonizing disaster risk reduction and climate change considerations.

However, he noted that it was obvious that given the new normal, much more needs to be done.

The Secretary-General lauded the Governments and People of the Caribbean Community and its Institutions, whom he noted “have stood up to be counted in assisting the affected states.”

He added that the Community is eternally grateful to the International Community for its “rendering tremendous support,” including the UNDP from its invaluable support to the CARICOM-UNDP Pledging Conference.


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