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CARICOM SG receives Guyana Private Sector Commission donations for storm-hit Dominica

CARICOM SG receives Guyana Private Sector Commission donations for storm-damaged Dominica (Caricom photo)

CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque Wednesday received a donation of items from member companies of the Guyana Private Sector Commission (PSC) to support the recovery effort in storm-damaged Dominica, the regional headquarters said in a statement.

The donation of a wide range of medical supplies, generators, cleaning items and cash were presented by New Guyana Pharmaceutical Company, Gaico Construction and General Services Inc., National Hardware and CAMEX Ltd.

The Secretary-General thanked the PSC for their quick and generous response to the devastation in the sister CARICOM Member State, and stressed that the donations are very well linked to the immediate needs on the ground.

“I can tell you these items will be well received, knowing the situation on the ground”.

Private Sector Commission Chairman, Major General (Ret) Norman Mc Lean said its members were keen to be early and make meaningful contributions to the relief effort.

“We are our brothers’ keepers and this is what is expected of us.  The Commission is working assiduously to ensure further meaningful contributions.”

Arrangements are being made to transport the items to Dominica later this week. The Secretary-General leaves on a visit to Dominica on Thursday.

Dominica is in recovery mode following last Thursday’s passage by Tropical Storm Erika which left more than 30 persons dead and extensive damage to infrastructure.  The Government has declared nine special disaster areas. 

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the CARICOM Institution leading the regional response on the ground in Dominica, has reported that 52 houses were destroyed and 89 damaged and that more than 500 persons remain homeless. It said major damage to roadways and bridges has made it difficult to reach several communities.

Meanwhile, CDEMA said in a separate statement that it has ramped up the mobilisation of response teams following the declaration of the special disaster areas by the government of Dominica.

As of Monday morning, over 100 members of the CARICOM Operational Support Team (COST), the CARICOM Disaster and Assessment Coordination Team (CDAC) and the Regional Search and Rescue Team were on the ground working closely alongside their counterparts including CDEMA’s emergency operations specialist, Brigadier General Earl Arthurs who is leading the CARICOM teams on the Ground.

Programme manager – response and recovery, Joanne Persad, stated, “Our regional response mechanism was on standby before the storm struck and we were able to have a team on the ground within 24 hours of the impact to offer technical support, guidance and advice to the government of Dominica. With the declaration of the disaster areas and identification of response priorities from Dominica, the CDEMA system immediately moved to deploy critical communications equipment, technical and coordination support through our response teams.”

COST is assisting in providing overall coordination support in the emergency operations centre in Dominica as well as the regional effort. Members of this team at this time are from the CDEMA Coordinating Unit, and National Disaster Offices of Trinidad, Saint Lucia and Montserrat. This team is expected to be further strengthened with personnel from the British Virgin Islands Department of Disaster Management later this week.

The Regional Security System (RSS) will also be deploying personnel to assist with the operations. Support for relief supplies distribution are also being supported through the deployment of military and police personnel from Saint Lucia and Barbados.

Persad concluded by saying that although logistics has been challenging in some areas, with the support from the governments of Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados we have been able to move personnel and equipment to Dominica. This has been facilitated through the services of two helicopters coming Trinidad and Tobago, the Barbados Coast Guard and the Marine Unit of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.

CDEMA is responsible for coordinating disaster response to 18 member countries when a hazard impact overwhelms the national capacity to respond to the disaster. This is facilitated through the regional response mechanism, which consists of the COST, CDAC, RSS, Regional Search and Rescue team and the CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit among other entities.