Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit has confirmed that at least twenty (20) citizens have died and several missing as a result of the passage of Tropical Storm Ericka on Wednesday 26 August 2015.
In an address to the nation on Friday 28 August 2015, the Prime Minister said “it is with a heavy heart that I address you tonight” as this is a national tragedy.
Earlier today, Mr Skerrit toured the island via helicopter after which he met with some permanent secretaries and Dominica Red Cross officials.
Mr Skerrit said he has been assessing the damage all day and its “extent is monumental, far worse than expected” as nearly every community has been hit with extensive damage across the island due to flooding and that “some communities are no longer recognizable”.
He noted that the visual damage seen today, “I fear, may have set our development process back by 20 years. I will not attempt tonight to affix a dollar value, but it is substantial”.
“It was a harrowing experience for me to see suffering on such a grand scale. My heart and soul grieve for you.
Of greatest concern however is the loss of life. So far we can confirm that at least 20 citizens have died, and some are missing.This is heart wrenching,” the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Skerrit has called on citizens to pull together and “steady ourselves to weather the storm” and rebuild Dominica in “honor of those who lost their lives”.
“We need at this time to show love; to show compassion, to show genuine interest in the welfare and wellbeing of those in mourning. This is a period of national tragedy and I want for Dominicans on this occasion to put all other considerations aside and reach out to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said.
Mr Skerrit, who was out of state and returning home from an international United Nations conference in China when the storm occurred, said this disaster might be “a wakeup call to pull ourselves together to resolve our problems”.
The Prime Minister also called for unity among all citizens, irrespective of political preferences, and come together to help rebuild the country and respond to those suffering.
Accordingly, a special meeting of all twenty-one elected members of Parliament to include the Opposition Leader and other parliamentarians to a special Cabinet Meeting tomorrow Saturday 29 August 2015 at the Financial Centre.
“The voters of Dominica elected 21 persons to represent their best interests and it is those 21 individuals who shall form the national reconstruction advisory committee. I want for Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and all other Members of Cabinet and of Parliament to sit, beginning tomorrow, and input on the path forward for the recovery of Dominica from this terrible disaster,” Mr Skerrit said.
“We can do this, Dominica, we must do this Dominica and we shall rebuild Dominica,” Mr Skerrit said.