Dominica stamps out looting

HELICOPTER HELP: TT Coast Guard loads much needed aid to be airlifted to Dominica.
HELICOPTER HELP: TT Coast Guard loads much needed aid to be airlifted to Dominica.

Dominica’s security is intact despite looting in Roseau and Portsmouth after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island a week ago, and a prison outbreak yesterday says Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

Meanwhile 27 people have been confirmed dead, 27 confirmed missing, and an additional unconfirmed 18 missing on account of Maria.

The names of the deceased and the missing will be made public, Skerrit said. “We are fortunate to not have hundreds or even thousands dead,” he said. “Thank God for sparing us.”

Along with heads of the Dominica Police Force (DPF) and the Regional Security Services (RSS), Skerrit gave an update on the security situation at a press briefing yesterday morning.

They said the looting was brought under control.

“We will not tolerate any lawlessness whatsoever,” Skerrit said adding that the curfew will be lifted on the advice of the police.

At present, regional support on the island include 30 from the RSS, Barbados Defence Force, 27; Royal Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force, six; and St Lucia Police Force, 13.

There is also a 21-member contingent from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, which has 25 members of the Coast Guard and 25 regular soldiers, along with a Dutch contingent, are currently providing security at the main port and deepwater harbour. TTDF’s ten airmen are assisting with distribution of supplies. Expected to arrive in the country today is an advance team of a 120-strength contingent from the engineering battalion of the Jamaica Defence Force.

A 15-member team from the St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force is also expected.

Skerrit said that food and other supplies are reaching the country and every community and street will be getting them.

While he could not give an assessment of the damage to the country in terms of dollars and cents, he said, he has invited the World Bank, Caribbean Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean to do independent assessments and to advise on the way forward.

Having visited many communities, he said, the country has lost 100 per cent of its agricultural stock and advised people to start replanting from next week once supplies and temporary shelter is addressed. Seeds and seedlings will be provided.

In terms of shelter, he said, Carnival Cruise Line will be making available 1,000 igloos of which 150 will be made available this week and the remainder in October. Hurricane Maria completely demolished many homes and left the majority of those still standing without roofs. The Americans were providing some temporary roofing.

On family and friends who wish to send relief supplies to their people in Dominica, Skerrit said, “We are encouraging it.”

However, he advised that they should not do so immediately as the infrastructure to receive them were not in place. Customs officers were affected as everyone else and they will have to return to work once the situation begins to normalise. The immediate focus, he said, was on getting relief supplies out nationally and to get people back on their feet. He does not want relatives and friends to send supplies and then accuse the government of stealing them when they could not be delivered in the current scenario. There is a tremendous amount of food supplies and other forms of relief that came in mainly for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Caribbean Community countries, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, China and the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela among others.

The government has also opened a line of credit in Barbados to keep food supplies going until the situation improves.

In the meantime, he said, a lot is happening to restore the country to some semblance of normalcy.

Even though the hospital was without electricity and the lives of dialysis patients were threatened, he said, Dominica received a donation of solar powered dialysis machines which are in operation.


"Dominica stamps out looting"

More in this section