Jamaica Observer:-REGIONAL disaster management and relief authorities are predicting that it will cost Dominica several billions of dollars to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, which struck the Eastern Caribbean island last week, killing an estimated 20 people and leaving the small island nation in devastation.
In the wake of the category five hurricane there have been reports of persons desperately in need of food and shelter, while there have also been reports of security threats in the capital, Roseau.
Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt, in a live broadcast last Thursday from Antigua, described the devastation as a “war zone”, where “every village, street, and person in Dominica was impacted”.
In a video press conference yesterday, in which the Jamaica Observerparticipated, head of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ronald Jackson said the losses from Maria is expected to be “exponentially higher” than the EC$500 million in damage which was sustained from Hurricane Erica just over a year ago.
“If Erica was in the region of a half-a-billion EC dollars, this is going to be multiple times that. The entire agricultural sector is down, the tourism sector took a significant impact (and) those are two primary areas of the economy of Dominica. The infrastructure itself is going to have to be rebuilt and hardened,” said Jackson, who noted that housing, hospitals and schools took a hard beating.
According to Jackson, Hurricane Ivan had in 2004 caused damage of more than 200 per cent of Grenada’s Gross Domestic Product, and he pointed out that Dominica could be looking at a similar situation, or worse. “This easily could be in that range or more,” he said.
Jackson said CDEMA’s own expenditure on coordination and relief efforts has already reached more than US$1 million. He stressed, however, that: “It is very important to make this distinction as CDEMA is a system, so it’s not just members from the coordinating unit… CDEMA trains, organises, works with develops, designs and brings into play 18 member countries and specialised regional institutions in the operations. So when we look at the cost of the operations we have to factor in the RSS (regional security system). There are costs associated with the RSS through their security treaty that also need to be captured and reflected in the overall cost of this operation”.