Erika storms through the Caribbean: Dominica suffers a significant damage

Published: 28 August 2015


The island of Dominica has sustained significant damage due to the passage of Tropical Storm Erika over the last 24 hours.  A band of torrential rain caused by the system has resulted in a 6-8 inch rainfall in less than twelve hours, triggering massive flooding and several landslides. 

Current reports from the Dominica Red Cross Society indicate that houses along rivers have been severely damaged or washed away.  Reported casualties include 5 dead, with 3 due to landslides and 2 as a result of rapid flooding along the Bath Estate river, with another 30 persons presumed dead in the community of Petite. Most of the main roads are impassable, and several bridges are blocked or damaged. There is some disruption in the provision of essential services (water, electricity) as well as intermittent landline and mobile phone services.  All air and sea ports are closed pending further assessments.

The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) of the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) was established at an alternate location, as the ODM headquarters are currently inaccessible. Initial reports on the total number of persons affected are not yet available.

A total rainfall accumulation of 4 to 8 inches is expected, with the possibility a maximum of 12 inches across parts of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern Bahamas through Saturday.  These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. 

The Dominica Red Cross Society has already mobilised personnel within the NEOC, and is apprising the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) of developments as they occur. Volunteers and community disaster response teams have been contacted as well, though the damage to telecommunications infrastructure has disrupted the relaying of information back to the national society headquarters. Damage assessments and needs analyses are also underway, in conjunction with local agencies. The amount of supplies on hand include household supplies for up to 300 families and a limited number of hygiene kits and cleaning kits; food, water, and building supplies will be required for immediate relief.

The Bahamas Red Cross Society has already put staff on alert in regards to potential activation, as well as securing the premises of their National Society, and has also been sharing all alerts from their national meteorology office.

Several regional organizations have already activated response mechanisms as well. IFRC’s Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) is on standby for the development of an Emergency Plan of Action and coordination efforts with National Societies, and the French Red Cross’s Regional Intervention Platform for Americas and Caribbean (PIRAC) is prepared to provide support in damage assessment, water and sanitation operations, and shipments of resources as needed. United Nations Children’s Rights and Emergency Relief Organization (UNICEF) has also pledged relief supplies, such as water purification tablets and tents.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in Barbados, acting on information provided by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), is expected to deploy response teams on the ground in Dominica, supported by air transport to facilitate reconnaissance, search and rescue, and medical evacuation as needed. These teams will include the CARICOM Operational Support Team (COST), CARICOM Disaster and Assessment Coordination Team (CDAC), and the CARICOM Disaster Response Unit (CDRU) through the Regional Security System (RSS), Regional Search and Rescue Team, and medical resources and services through the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).

CDEMA is also receiving support from other countries. Trinidad and Tobago is providing a helicopter and medical teams, as well as personnel for CDAC and COST teams in addition St. Lucia and Barbados. Additionally, Antigua and Barbuda has placed two search and rescue teams on standby. Other groups that have taken action include The Eastern Caribbean Donor Partners Group for Disaster Management (ECDPGM), who have already reached out to convene to evaluate further action, and the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP) has already asked their members to be on standby for support as needed.

 

For more information please contact:

Diana Medina. Communication Manager America Region

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent 

Email: Diana.medina@ifrc.org | Mobile: +507 6780-5395

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