Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit has given a press conference from the island nation updating the international community on the state of the country after Hurricane Maria battered it last week.
Skerrit opened by saying he was “eternally grateful” to the international community for their immediate help after the Category 5 storm hit the island Sept. 19.
He recounted that doctors immediately came from Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, France and the U.K., adding there has been a “manifestation of solidarity” from countries that have helped the island make “tremendous progress” so far, clearing roads and creating access and movability about the devasted country.
A member of the Cuban team added that Cuba has had a permanent medical brigade on Dominica for several years, which immediately deployed when Hurricane Maria hit, adding that Cuba is in the “best position to help, and will do so with pleasure.”
The neighboring island nation sent an additional 10 doctors and three electricians to Dominica.
Skerrit thanked Venezuela and the U.K. for bringing supplies via helicopter. Two ships with 350 million pounds of supplies from the international community are arriving this morning to separate ports on the island. Venezuela, the Netherlands, and the U.K. will distribute these materials via helicopter to island residents today.
Tomorrow, Morocco and Suriname will each deliver a planeload of supplies; Barbados will do the same in the next several days.
The Prime Minister stressed, “There shall not be any discrimination of any kind in the redistribution of supplies,” saying that the government is working on a protocol of “accountability, transparency, and equity” so all materials are distributed equitably throughout the island. He added that, for transparency, all citizens will have access to this protocol. The government is also creating a system of vouchers for residents to use in picking up supplies at centers throughout the island.
The administration is working with Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica to evaluate how to manage island security. Skerrit said he didn’t want the island and the recovery efforts to be “infiltrated by drug and arms” rings. Because authorities don’t have the infrastructure at the ports to inspect them, personal and individual packages will be not be received until next week.
U.K. companies have helped to get communications infrastructure in place “several days ago,” while the country is still working to get bottled and running water to all residents. Schools have yet to reopen but the government is working to create 15 temporary tent schools with supplies throughout the country so that kids and their parents can return to normalcy.
The prime minister looks forward to working with international relief workers and economists “to rebuild the country in a way we would have liked it in the first place. We are going … to build a more resilient country.”
A Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency representative speaking at the press conference said the agency will continue to support Dominica.