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interCaribbean announces Dominica to Tortola & St. Lucia Services

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interCaribbean Airways

Providenciales, Turks & Caicos (February 21, 2018) – interCaribbean Airways celebrating 26 years of continuous services, is pleased to announce new nonstop schedule services from Dominica to St Lucia and Tortola, with 1 stop easy connections via Tortola to St Thomas, St Croix, Sint Maarten, San Juan, Providenciales and Santo Domingo.

Travelers can make two-stop connections via interCaribbean flights to Kingston and Nassau.  Even allowing for two stops this is still one of the fastest travel times in the Caribbean.

Flights to and from Dominica begin on March 22 with 3 weekly flights as follows Schedule.

Flight # From – To Effective Until Days Depart Arrive
521 EIS – DOM March 22, 2018 November 3, 2018 Mon, Thurs, Sun 4:25 PM 5:45 PM
621 DOM – SLU March 22, 2018 November 3, 2018 Mon, Thurs, Sun 6:15 PM 6:55 PM
622 SLU – DOM March 22, 2018 November 3, 2018 Mon, Tues, Fri 9:00 AM 9:40 AM
522 DOM – EIS March 22, 2018 November 3, 2018 Mon, Tues, Fri 10:10 AM 11:30 AM

 

DOM = Dominica Douglas Charles Airport, EIS = Tortola Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport, SLU = St. Lucia – Castries International Airport.

interCaribbean has expanded its schedule to new points throughout the Caribbean connecting more of the Caribbean than any other Caribbean Airline.

CEO Trevor Sadler, stated “We are pleased to begin connecting Dominica with our Caribbean, bringing affordable air fares to this latest interCaribbean destination”.  We look forward to welcoming Citizens and Residents aboard and adding new connections and cities that Dominica can enjoy.

Mr. Colin Piper. Director of Tourism, Dominica welcomes the new service, stating “ interCaribbean is giving Dominicans new choices to fly to and from Dominica and more connections to more places, the service is very timely and very welcome.  We look forward to the launch and anticipation of service to further islands.”

Visit interCaribbean.com to learn more about the company and its operations.

About interCaribbean Airways

interCaribbean Airways Ltd. was founded as InterIsland Airways Charter Services in 1991.

In 2003 the Turks and Caicos Government started a push toward regional and international development and it seemed the time had come for the Turks and Caicos to have its own airline. A scheduled license was applied for and granted, and thus began an ambitious expansion project that involved adding international destinations and acquiring larger and faster aircraft. The company re-branded to become Air Turks & Caicos to serve key international destinations, with daily scheduled flights to cities in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Bahamas and Puerto Rico.

Currently we operates six 30 passenger Embraer 120 aircraft with equipped with lavatories, a galley and flight attendant service, 2 x Beech 99 aircraft , 1 x 9 passenger Britten Norman Islander, along with a King Air 200 aircraft and Cessna 401.  Returning back into the fleet is the Twin Otter aircraft expected to join in December 2015.

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IOM Recruiting and Building Capacity of Local Workers for Reconstruction

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ION
Local building practices. Photo source: CBN4

Press Release – The UN Migration Agency IOM is recruiting Carpenters, Contractors, Engineers and Architects, to assist in its reconstruction work in Dominica.

Field training is taking place this week in Colihaut, with newly recruited teams of local workers from the west-central communities between Dublanc and Morne Rachette.

These teams will start working immediately with the repair of roofs Morne Rachette. Soon we will move to the surrounding communities.

According to IOM Team Leader, Jan-Willem Wegdam “We need many contractors, skilled carpenters, and semi-skilled workers because we want to repair as many houses as possible before the coming hurricane season. The training is very practical, no classrooms, and focused on the skills to repair hurricane resilient homes.”

Interested workers can send or drop their resume (CV) to the IOM office on the 2 nd floor upstairs the FedEX office in Roseau or to the Village Councils representing the communities of Woodfordhill, Marigot, Wesley, Calibishie, Bense, Anse de Mai, Portsmouth, Glanvillia, Picard, Salisbury, St. Joseph, Layou Park, Morne Rachette, Colihaut, Dublanc and Bioche, where IOM will be working…

Photo source: CBN4

It is also possible to send a resume to djoseph@iom.int. Only the people pre-selected will be invited for an interview.

IOM is supporting the work of the Government of Dominica in providing assistance to the people that are really not able to restore their homes after Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

In addition to training for workers and beneficiaries, IOM will soon organize community information sessions, participate in radio call-in programmes and distribute leaflets with tips to build back better and safer, in close collaboration with the government and other humanitarian organisations that are repairing homes in Dominica.

“We need many contractors, skilled carpenters, and semi-skilled workers because we want to repair as many houses as possible before the coming hurricane season. The training is very practical, no classrooms, and focused on the skills to repair hurricane resilient homes.”

IOM will repair roofs and construct simple but strong houses for more than 1,000 families. We received funding from the people of the United Kingdom, the European Commission humanitarian agency ECHO, the government of Australia and China AID through UNDP.

For more information on the IOM and its work Call, Text or WhatsApp 285 0794 (Mondays to Fridays, from 9am to 5pm).

The IOM was established in 1951, and in 2016 became part of the United Nations as the first agency specialized in all areas of migration. Dominica became a member of the IOM in December 2017, bringing the number of member states to 169, with a further 8 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries.

IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, promote international cooperation on migration issues, assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.

 

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Dominica Debate Team to Vie for Second Regional Title

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On the road to the Windward Islands Debating Competition

Take a look at how we've been preparing to represent Dominica at the 2018 Windward Islands Debating Competition! Thank you so much to everyone who has made the journey possible.

Posted by Dominica State College Literary and Debating Society on Monday, February 26, 2018

Last year the Dominica State College (DSC) emerged winner of the first debate competition among Community Colleges in the Windward Islands. Five DSC students participated in the debating competition at the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in St Lucia and won big time!

The second edition of the competition is being held in St Vincent and the Grenadines on March 02 (today) and 03, 2018. The students are Tarrie Anselm, Jair Pendenque, Kareen George and Ashfred Morris. The team is being supported by Sagicor Life Inc. and its Agency Manager, Brenton Hilaire, said the company is pleased to be part of the venture.

“On behalf of Sagicor Life Inc. our team in Dominica is pleased to support the representatives of the Literary and Debating Society of the Dominica State College,” he said. “We view this as an investment in our community and also and investment in the future of Dominica.”

Lecturer at the Dominica State College Trudy Christian said that despite the challenges the team was able to receive adequate preparation for the competition.

“It is very demanding to prepare the way that they had to prepare although the preparations they had to make have been difficult of course due to our current situation in Dominica lack of electricity and lack of a constant or reliable supply of internet service but they have put in significant work,” said Christian (source: Dominica News Online).

The competition starts at 9:00 AM on March 2 and will be live-streamed at this link. The team needs your support and urges you to share this post with your social networks!

Best of Luck!

DSC debate team
“SVG, team Dominica has arrived! I really want to thank our numerous sponsors for making this journey possible!” Photo source: Trudy Christian
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Japan says it is committed to enhancing resilience in developing countries

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Japanese Ambassador to Dominica
Japanese Ambassador to Dominica. Photo source: Dominica Vibes

ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — Japan Thursday said it is committed to supporting developing nations in enhancing their resilience to climate change.

“Japan as a proactive active contributor to world peace and security and as a nation with many small islands has been active in tackling climate change issues,” Japan Ambassador to Dominica, Mitsuhiko Okada, said as he spoke at a ceremony where his country is providing 220 million yen (US$2.2 million) to the hurricane battered country.

He said the grant aid is intended to enhance Dominica’s capacity to resound to climate change and at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties ,COP 21, Tokyo announced new initiatives for supporting action in developing countries to address climate change.

He said under this new initiative Japan will provide US$12 billion in climate change finance to developing countries to the year 2020 covering renewable energy production, resilient infrastructure among other activities.

He said for Dominica in particular, Japan has provided emergency assistance twice in two years. “In addition Japan has just done an exchange of notes with the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) for a project that aims to strengthen the disaster management capacity of women in the Commonwealth of Dominica.”

He said the grant to Dominica is part of his country’s global efforts to support developing countries responding to climate change.

He said the grant will be used to purchase equipment which will enhance the logistical capability of the island as well as help it deal with the effects of Hurricane Maria “and future extreme weather events”.

 

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Dominicans Participate in Emergency Response and Disaster Preparedness Seminar

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Dominican participants at a 5 Day International Exchange Seminar in Trinidad and Tobago entitled Alumni in Action for Resilient Communities: Emergency Response and Disaster Preparedness. From left to right - Honoré, Timothy and Frederick. (Photo source: Valarie Honoré)

Three (3) Dominicans recently participated in a US Government Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar on Emergency Response and Disaster Preparedness.

  • Disaster Programme Officer (Office of Disaster Management – ODM) Donalson Frederick
  • Social Entrepreneur (I Have a Right Foundation) Valarie Honoré
  • Mechanical Engineer (DOMLEC) Jason Timothy

They participated in a 5-Day International Exchange Seminar in Trinidad and Tobago entitled Alumni in Action for Resilient Communities: Emergency Response and Disaster Preparedness.

In the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes that made landfall from Dominica to Puerto Rico, the seminar examined quick responses and long-term recovery capacity building for emergencies and natural disasters in the Caribbean region. The seminar aimed to build a regional network of leaders to share best practices, increase community resilience, and improve strategic planning and recovery efforts.

Participants – who now have an opportunity to compete for small grants to make a positive difference in local communities – described the seminar as extremely timely and a fantastic opportunity bringing Caribbean nationals together to find solutions to the region’s challenges with disaster preparedness and management.

 

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Voluntourism with Fort Young Hotel – An Ethical Getaway

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Fort Young Hotel, Dominica

At the beginning of 2018, Dominica’s premier hotel, the Fort Young Hotel, reopened to the public and thereafter launched its voluntourism package. The hotel is charged with rehabilitating Segment 3 of the Waitukubuli National Trail.

Dominica, the Caribbean’s true natural treasure, is so beautifully untouched that it borders supernatural. Abounding with lush rain forests, waterfalls, rivers and uninhibited coastlines, the island is a rich mine waiting to be discovered. Luckily, Fort Young Hotel now offers the opportunity to do so—all whilst giving back to the earth in the wake of a land-altering storm.

The hotel’s new Voluntourism package offers:

  • 5 nights of accommodation
  • Full breakfast daily
  • Round-trip airport transfers
  • Tour of the island
  • Three days of transportation to Segment 3 of the Waitukubuli National Trail
  • Taxes and charges included

Starting at $837.00 USD per person

Fort Young Hotel Voluntourism
Photo source: Fort Young Hotel website

Here, one can catch a glimpse of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park and Boiling Lake, all while admiring exotic flora, fauna, sulfur springs and hot spas. With this package, guests will embark upon the challenging 12.8 km hike and do their part by clearing debris along the way so future travelers can, too, enjoy the trail’s bewildering beauty. And, of course, hikers will be rewarded with a soothing bath in clear waters and stunning vistas of the Giraudel Botanic Gardens.

And, while the Voluntourism package offers the coveted opportunity to experience the island’s natural splendor, guests will, too, benefit Dominica with their much-needed tourism and volunteer efforts. A true ethical getaway, the package allows one to experience the island’s grandeur while, likewise, being an essential factor in its continued growth.

Terms and conditions:

  • A guaranteed reservation assures you of a room even if you check in very late (after 6:00 pm).
  • All reservations made through this web site must be guaranteed to a major credit card.
  • One night will be charged at the time of booking with the remaining due upon arrival.
  • Cancellations for a hotel room reservation must be received two (2) days prior to arrival.
  • If cancellation of a guaranteed reservation is not received by the required date, we will charge for one night’s accommodation.
  • Guarantee/Deposit and Change/Cancellation Fees will depend on selected dates and room/rate combination.
  • The booking period will be valid through May 20, 2018, with the travel period comprising January 1 – May 31. The package price starts at $837 with a nightly rate discounted 25% and rates for all package components discounted 10-15%.

 

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Positive Notes from Positive People #38

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A Trinidadian group building a home in the Kalinago Territory for a Kalinago family. They taught me a powerful lesson today: “Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray.”

By Louis Patrick Hill 

One onlooker (Patricia Yvonne Armour Hill) commented:

“Was such a heart warming experience to witness them engage in such meaningful projects, and to see them share « love » and joy with perfect strangers… May all those who were touched by their love, generosity and kindness, find it within their hearts to continue sharing the love.”

Kalinago House, Dominica
Photo source: Louis Patrick Hill
Kalinago House, Dominica
Photo source: Louis Patrick Hill
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Positive Notes from Positive People #37

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Mission Ocean, Dominica

I encountered this exchange of greetings and thank yous which gave me a sense of pride and hope. Thank You to both organizations for your contributions to Dominica’s recovery!

“Thank you to Mission Océan for all your donations and for the wonderful day out! Sandra Watkin and the children had a fabulous time.” – Help For Dominica

“What an amazing day we had yesterday with Sandra and the kids from Help for Dominica! Sailing, plankton samples and picnics, and a car full of donations sent back to Castle Bruce, where the hurricane hit hard.” – Mission Océan

Mission Ocean, Dominica
Photo source: Mission Ocean
Mission Ocean, Dominica
Photo source: Mission Ocean
Mission Ocean, Dominica
Photo source: Mission Ocean
Mission Ocean, Dominica
Photo source: Mission Ocean

About Help For Dominica

Originally founded by Brenda Vidal and Sandra Watkin after Tropical Storm Erika, for emergency aid, Help For Dominica went on to send art and crafts to schools and community projects supporting abuse victims.

About Mission Océan

The goal at Mission Océan is to work with oceanographic research associations and organizations to better understand the oceans. They endeavor to share their respect and love for the sea with others, whether it is through educational project, scientists, or just through blogs and publications. 

 

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UPDATE: Dominican Secures ‘3rd Best Individual Rider’ at Equestrian Jumping Competition

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Lena Magloire. (Photo source: InterCaraïbes Concours Saut D'Obstacles)

On day two and the final day of the competition, the course was more complicated than the first day with obstacles placed in such a way that there were hardly any straight runs, only curves which are more challenging to maneuver on a galloping horse.

Unfortunately Lena Magloire and Lytleen Julien were eliminated, Lena made a small mistake of missing her start and Lytleen took a fall, luckily not a serious one and she suffered no injuries.

Manuela Nassief did not do as well as the first day either, as she knocked down a pole, loosing 4 points but was able to stay on the horse in spite of having lost her stirrups after the first jump.

Shaydan Laville, Dominica
Shaydan Laville beaming happily with her trophy. (Photo source: Sandra Vivas-Guerrero)

The happy ending was Shaydan Laville placing 5th in the Espoir category (with obstacles 85 cm high) and then taking home a trophy as the 3rd best individual rider overall in her category!

Given what the Brandy Manor Riding Center – owners and students – endured during and after Maria, the performance this weekend in Martinique is a testament of resilience and determination. These four courageous girls have made Dominica proud!

 

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Positive Notes from Positive People #36

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Big up to all the young men who assisted with the clean up of an old building and its surroundings in the heart of the village. Also thanks to Nyran for making his truck available.

The entire village appreciates each and everyone of you. Thank you, very much.

By Hector John

Salisbury, Dominica
Photo source: Hector John
Salisbury, Dominica
Photo source: Hector John
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Dominica Secures 3rd Place at the InterCaribbean Equestrian Jumping Competition

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Manuel Nassief, Dominica
Yasmin Cole, Dominica
Yasmin Cole, one of the directors of Brandy Manor Riding School, was the trainer on Dominica’s team. (Photo source: Sandra Vivas-Guerrero)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Dominica’s Brandy Manor Riding School, directed by Yasmin Cole and Linton Moses, was invited to participate as a form of relief and as a token of fraternal aid to the 30th InterCaribbean Equestrian Jumping Competition in Lamentin, Martinique.

The riding school suffered severe damages and therefore the team had hardly any training before the competition. In spite of this, the Dominica team amazed the Caribbean riders in Martinique with their great riding skills.

The team Dominica was composed by Lena Magloire, Lytleen Julian, Shaydan Laville and Manuela Nassief with Yasmin Cole as their coach. Manuela Nassief and Lena Magloire were in the Pony Category with 75 cm high jumps while Shaydan Laville and Lytleen Julian were in the Espoir Category with 85 cm high jumps.

Manuela Nassief, Dominica
Manuela Nassief secured third place in the Pony Category (with 75 cm high jumps) and shows off her medal proudly! (Photo source: Sandra Vivas-Guerrero)

Shaydan Laville was able to make Dominica proud placing 10th out of 45 riders in her category while Manuela Nassief placed 3rd out of 21 riders. Lytleen Julien and Lena Magloire had great runs, no eliminations nor falls however did not place in the top ten.

Team Dominica wishes to thank everybody who made this possible and wished them well in this great experience.

(Lena Magloire is seen in the header photo. Photo source: InterCaraïbes Concours Saut D’Obstacles)

Manuela Nassief, Dominica
Lytleen Julien. (Photo source: InterCaraïbes Concours Saut D’Obstacles)
Manuela Nassief. (Photo source: InterCaraïbes Concours Saut D’Obstacles)
Sheydan Laville. (Photo source: InterCaraïbes Concours Saut D’Obstacles)
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Appreciation for Alick Athanaze

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Alick Athanaze

Alick Athanaze is a young Dominican cricketer who made his List A debut for the West Indies Under-19s in the 2016–17. However, he recently made his mark during a successful tour of New Zealand at the ICC Cricket Under 19 World Cup tournament.

Although the West Indies team was knocked out in an early round of the tournament, Alick scored two centuries, was named Man of the Match and eventually finished as top scorer with 418 runs!

Alick was met at the Douglas Charles Airport by sports officials, his parents and the media. And was escorted to Roseau via motorcade, where he met with more fans and supporters.

Alick Athanaze 2
Local businessman, Emile Depooter hands a cheque of $550.00 to returning cricketer, Alick Athanaze.

A small group of friends (calling themselves Wha Go DA!) wanted to do a bit more for Alick and offered him a token – a cheque of $550.00 – as a way of encouraging him and inspiring other youth sportsmen and sportswomen.

Since the donation, many have asked about making their own contributions and Alick has provided his banking information below:

Name: Alick Athanzae
Bank: First Caribbean International Bank (Old Street, Roseau)
Account Number: 107027929

Make your own donation or share the information with those who will!

We look forward to many more great showings from Alick, and hope that this donation stirs up local interest and appreciation for sports among businesses and government departments.

Here’s a highlight reel from a recent match at the ICC Under-19 World Cup, West Indies v Canada. Alick is shown at bat with teammate Keagan Simmons in the first 60 seconds of the video:

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From Under de Mango Tree – End of Week 1

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Under de Mango Tree 2

A Memory of Maria: End of week 1

My second trek up my farm road was easier. It became easier every time I did the walk, as I shed lbs and built stamina. Our formerly dependent Pajero never started after Maria, and much hardship accrued to us from not having a vehicle. In the weeks to come I became accustomed to the “bus culture” and skilled at begging for rides. So low did the mighty fall.

On day 6 I set out to visit my friends Reggie and Ken Armour. Mr. Reggie is the owner of Eden on Sea estate where we live. Walking the 2 miles to their home was a daunting task, but I got a ride halfway. Shared rides became a feature of the recovery.

Shared rides became a feature of the recovery.

One of my most heartbreaking experiences was observing a man cooking on a two burner gas stove on a table set in the middle of his house floor slab. His meager possessions were stacked under the table, and there were no walls. Like so many, a lifetime of achievement had been reduced to rubble.

The Armour estate house had stood proudly for nearly 60 years. It was now a roofless battered ruin. Ken had resettled from Nova Scotia a mere three months before. “I did not sign up for this” were his first words to me. Ken is a fatalist like myself, and a subsequent comment “It is what it is” resonated with me. In the following months, Ken and I developed a strong enduring friendship.

Set on the coast down the road from the Armour estate house is the beautiful holiday residence of our friends Betty and Gene from Sarasota, Florida. We can see their home from our home, and the absence of galvanize from their roof told us that not all was well with them. Their Florida home had dodged hurricane Irma some days before.

Ken had resettled from Nova Scotia a mere three months before. “I did not sign up for this” were his first words to me.

We three drove to the airport and an offer of evacuation by the USA helicopter services was quickly accepted. I assisted Betty and Gene to evacuate the next day. Maryann turned down a similar offer. B&G left me with a fully stocked larder and freezer full of food, which I shared with three other families. Thanks to their generosity, food was not an issue for the next two weeks.

Our road was now fully motor-able. First order of business was to install a salvaged piece of rain guttering to collect rain water. A metal barrel given to us by good friend Nia became invaluable for collecting and storing rain water. Normalcy was returning to the Volney household. We set our minds on recovery rather than survival.

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 – Day 5

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Under de Mango Tree 2

A Memory of Maria: Day 5

Walking up our 2500 ft farm road was a real challenge. I had to go “off road” through roadside farms more than once to get around broken trees. Not having the right footwear did not help. Eden on Sea, the plantation where we live, is a coconut plantation. Coconut trees, felled by Maria, were down everywhere, all pointing towards the North West. The few left standing had broken crowns, and little chance of survival.

It was heart breaking! Our beautiful canopy of cedar trees were a mangled mess. Maria had stripped away all leaves and underbrush and sea blast was fast turning greens to brown. Tall plantain trees that had lined our road were ripped from the earth. Our road was furrowed by the torrential rain runoff. The land was stripped bare. There were no birds.

The true magnitude of the catastrophe that was our lot unfolded around me. Tears began to streak down my cheeks as I observed what remained of the ridge top houses to the south of me. 9 out of 10 roofs were gone, and gaps between houses bore testament to the homes that had been blown away.

I continued my struggle up to the top of my road where Mr. Jeremy lived. His house with its concrete roof stood solid, however all galvanize awnings on the exterior were gone. I stopped to talk with him and we exchanged our stories. Exchanging memories of Maria would be a feature of every conversation in the weeks to come.

9 out of 10 roofs were gone, and gaps between houses bore testament to the homes that had been blown away.

Galvanize sheeting and the remnants of roofing rafters littered the road. Galvanize festooned the standing trees like tissue paper, and every electric pole was bowed or broken in submission. I came to Mr. Prince’s house. His new roof, merely 1 year old, was gone. Nothing remained of his beautiful home but the naked walls. Prince, a British returnee in his 80s, was in total shock, and I stopped to swap memories of that fateful night. Everyone had to tell their story.

The catholic church stood, but had lost its steeple. Maria had a special wrath for churches, as few were not destroyed. As the density of housing increased, so did the magnitude of destruction unfold. Electric cables and telephone wires crossed the road. Everywhere were the remnants of houses, and damaged vehicles, like a war zone.

Prior to leaving, I had committed to paper our names and the names of our sons and their phone numbers. I handed out the messages saying that we were OK to everyone I met. Son CJ recalled that his first awareness that we were OK came from an anonymous source who relayed that the “white man” had been seen in the village. Communication with our sons was an obsession.

The houses that stood were now packed with relatives and friends, and wood fires boiled away with the next meal.

Wesley main road was barely passable with a tangled mess of wires, leaning electrical poles, and the ruins of houses. Her residents had that glazed survivors look in their eyes, but the sound of sawing and hammering was everywhere, as people tried to return some sense of normalcy to their lives. The houses that stood were now packed with relatives and friends, and wood fires boiled away with the next meal.

Everyone was occupied with obtaining safe drinking water. The area has an abundance of springs, so every conceivable container was pressed into service to collect and store water. One major lesson I carried away from Maria is that water is life. The other preoccupation was with securing a supply of gasoline. With no electricity, gas pumps do not work, and transportation grinds to a halt.

On the long walk back home, I came across two workers from the plantation who I knew. They agreed to come the next day to clear away the debris from our road. Another big life lesson for me was that money has no power at times of disaster. It is the relationships that you foster that sustain you, and people will assist you if they like you.

Ms Shirley gave me two bottles of drinking water when I stopped to talk to her. Renoir, who I met on the way down the road wielding his chain saw, was grateful to receive one. Rich or poor, we were all in this together.

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 – Day 5

0
Under de Mango Tree 2

A Memory of Maria: Day 5

Walking up our 2500 ft farm road was a real challenge. I had to go “off road” through roadside farms more than once to get around broken trees. Not having the right footwear did not help. Eden on Sea, the plantation where we live, is a coconut plantation. Coconut trees, felled by Maria, were down everywhere, all pointing towards the North West. The few left standing had broken crowns, and little chance of survival.

It was heart breaking! Our beautiful canopy of cedar trees were a mangled mess. Maria had stripped away all leaves and underbrush and sea blast was fast turning greens to brown. Tall plantain trees that had lined our road were ripped from the earth. Our road was furrowed by the torrential rain runoff. The land was stripped bare. There were no birds.

The true magnitude of the catastrophe that was our lot unfolded around me. Tears began to streak down my cheeks as I observed what remained of the ridge top houses to the south of me. 9 out of 10 roofs were gone, and gaps between houses bore testament to the homes that had been blown away.

“Our road was furrowed by the torrential rain runoff. The land was stripped bare. There were no birds.”

I continued my struggle up to the top of my road where Mr. Jeremy lived. His house with its concrete roof stood solid, however all galvanize awnings on the exterior were gone. I stopped to talk with him and we exchanged our stories. Exchanging memories of Maria would be a feature of every conversation in the weeks to come.

Galvanize sheeting and the remnants of roofing rafters littered the road. Galvanize festooned the standing trees like tissue paper, and every electric pole was bowed or broken in submission. I came to Mr. Prince’s house. His new roof, merely 1 year old, was gone. Nothing remained of his beautiful home but the naked walls. Prince, a British returnee in his 80s, was in total shock, and I stopped to swap memories of that fateful night. Everyone had to tell their story.

The catholic church stood, but had lost its steeple. Maria had a special wrath for churches, as few were not destroyed. As the density of housing increased, so did the magnitude of destruction unfold. Electric cables and telephone wires crossed the road. Everywhere were the remnants of houses, and damaged vehicles, like a war zone.

Prior to leaving, I had committed to paper our names and the names of our sons and their phone numbers. I handed out the messages saying that we were OK to everyone I met. Son CJ recalled that his first awareness that we were OK came from an anonymous source who relayed that the “white man” had been seen in the village. Communication with our sons was an obsession.

Wesley main road was barely passable with a tangled mess of wires, leaning electrical poles, and the ruins of houses. Her residents had that glazed survivors look in their eyes, but the sound of sawing and hammering was everywhere, as people tried to return some sense of normalcy to their lives. The houses that stood were now packed with relatives and friends, and wood fires boiled away with the next meal.

“One major lesson I carried away from Maria is that water is life.”

Everyone was occupied with obtaining safe drinking water. The area has an abundance of springs, so every conceivable container was pressed into service to collect and store water. One major lesson I carried away from Maria is that water is life. The other preoccupation was with securing a supply of gasoline. With no electricity, gas pumps do not work, and transportation grinds to a halt.

On the long walk back home, I came across two workers from the plantation who I knew. They agreed to come the next day to clear away the debris from our road. Another big life lesson for me was that money has no power at times of disaster. It is the relationships that you foster that sustain you, and people will assist you if they like you.

Ms Shirley gave me two bottles of drinking water when I stopped to talk to her. Renoir, who I met on the way down the road wielding his chain saw, was grateful to receive one. Rich or poor, we were all in this together.

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 – Days 2-4

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Under de Mango Tree

A Memory of Maria: Days 2-4

Oh my God! Our much loved sons. Our Family. Our friends. They did not know that we had survived. The cellular phone tower above Wesley village could be seen in the distance, but it had been stripped of all equipment. There was no possibility of communicating with anyone. We were helpless, isolated, and completely cut off from everyone. We had to get through to them, somehow! The whole world had gone silent.

Mud and muck everywhere. Up and down the walls, and mud packed hard into the v joints between rafters. No water to mop or clean with, so mud and other debris had to be swept out. Everything wet through and already smelling of mold. At least it rained, and we put out every available container to collect it off our roof. Boiled rain water would sustain us for the next 3 months. It took days to completely dry the linens and clothing we had salvaged.

The whole world had gone silent.

We spent the balance of day 1 separating our stuff into two piles, the salvageable, and the destroyed. Impromptu clothes lines set up wherever possible were festooned with the remnants of our possessions, and the pile outside, slated for burning, grew and grew. My trophy painting of a leaping marlin was a mass of streaked paint merged into a unrecognizable mess. Mattresses were propped up against walls for drying.

Our stove worked after a period of drying, however the fridge worked intermittently, as we had to plug it in and unplug every half hour. We had done our shopping for the usual 2 weeks days before Maria struck, so it was necessary to keep the freezer going. All meats had to be consumed quickly or we would lose them. The fridge eventually expired.

Five hours of house cleanup had left us physically exhausted. We were alone. The enormity of the disaster began to sink in. Yet we had a roof over our heads, and were unharmed. We could see that both houses along the coast north of us were badly damaged, as Maria, stripping away all foliage, had opened up naked vistas for us. All around, our verdant forest had been stripped of their green, and broken branches were intertwined in a tangled mess everywhere.

The new dawn brought a determination to clear a path through the debris that covered our road. We had to dig ourselves out from this mess. Maryann and I pulled away branches for 3 days to clear a path. Removing every branch had to be well planned, as our fear was to puncture ourselves without access to medical care. Totally unused to hard manual labour, the task tested our endurance.

All around, our verdant forest had been stripped of their green, and broken branches were intertwined in a tangled mess everywhere.

We were just about finished road clearing through our cedar tree arbour, except for the trees felled across the road, when our second visitor arrived. Renoir, my mechanic and go to man, had arrived to check on us. Arrangements were made for him to return the next day (day 5) with a chain saw.

Renoir told us that we had 5 coconut trees across the road, as well as three large trees. He said he would cut up the trees, however I would have to hire someone to set the cut wood along the roadside. The prospect of reconnecting with the village brought a overwhelming sense of relief to us.

Next morning (day 5) we were awakened to the wonderful sound of a chainsaw working away. How sounds affected us for months. Day 3 had brought firstly the sound of helicopters and then the sight of them. Helicopters galore began to fill the airspace above us, given our proximity to the airport. We were not alone.

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 – Day 0

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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

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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

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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

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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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