Urgent Support Needed for Dominica, Island Hardest-hit by Hurricane Maria

Humanitarian Emergencies, Internally Displaced Persons, Migration and Climate Change, Migration and Environment

Roseau – Two weeks after Hurricane Maria obliterated Dominica, people affected by the Category Five hurricane are still in desperate need of assistance. Lack of access to central and coastal communities, beyond Roseau, the country’s capital, and Melville, have hampered needs assessments and humanitarian relief efforts.

Over 3,000 people have been identified as staying in 78 collective centres across the island through IOM, the UN Migration Agency’s displacement and needs tracking tool. However, the total number of people displaced by the storm is still unknown, as at least 65 centres and numerous unofficial displacement sites and host family locations have yet to be assessed.

With food, water, telecommunications and access cut off since 18 September, the situation in Dominica is growing more difficult every day. Initial assessments indicate that the number of damaged or destroyed buildings is between 17,000 and 20,000, which housed 54,000 people – about 80 per cent of the total population of the island. Twenty-seven people are confirmed dead. This figure may rise once contact is re-established with cut-off communities.

Augustine Taruka, manager of the collective centre in Mahaut Government School, two kilometres north of the capital Roseau, explained to IOM that several families took shelter in the centre when the hurricane destroyed their houses.
For others, they left their homes as the roofs could no longer protect them from Dominica’s ongoing hurricane season, which usually lasts until November.

“We are receiving support, but not enough,” Taruka explained. “We received some drinking water on the 28th [September] but it is already finished, and I can’t let the children drink water from the river as they might get ill. We are trying to collect rainwater, but we don’t have enough buckets.”

Nathan, a five-year-old Dominican temporarily housed in the collective centre, points out to where his house used to be, on the hillside near the school. “In between the two yellow houses,” he said, but all that remains of his house is a mound of debris.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Government of Dominica report needs for 14,000 tarpaulins, 4,813 cases of water per day, road clearance, bridge reconstruction, shelter repair materials, water purification kits, non-food items, generators, dignity and sanitation materials and medical supplies.

IOM has released USD 100,000 from its own funds to scale up shelter assistance in Dominica, and is appealing for USD 2.2 million to provide emergency shelter, roofing kits, and support to collective centres in the island.

Read the detailed appeal here.

For more information, please contact Jorge Gallo in the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Tel: +506 2212-5300, Email: jgallo@iom.int

  • People in Dominica affected by the Category Five hurricane Maria are still in desperate need of assistance. Photo: IOM 2017

  • People in Dominica affected by the Category Five hurricane Maria are still in desperate need of assistance. Photo: IOM 2017