Local relief effort grows
STTHOMAS, US Virgin Islands (AP):
The Dominica Disaster Relief Committee, a group that grew from the efforts of the Dominican community on St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands to send aid to their countrymen who were devastated by Tropical Storm Erika, continues to grow.
Now the organisation has expanded its collection efforts to St John and St Croix.
"The various groups and organisations are under one umbrella," said Loreen Bannis Roberts, chairwoman of the Dominica Disaster Relief Committee. "It helps very well because the group has people representing them around the territory and we have one collection point. It's easier because we do it as one team. It is one effort for Dominica, and we are coming together to get things going. That makes it much easier."
Roberts said the situation in Dominica is dire.
"It's a grave situation," she said. "We have a large number missing. Pettite Savanne has been evacuated and nine communities have been declared disaster areas."
The Dominica Disaster Relief Committee will be sending its first large shipment of relief supplies to the island this weekend. The cut-off for donating items for the first load is Thursday night, Roberts said.
On St John, Thelma Louis, who has many friends and relatives on the stricken island, said the situation is tragic.
"I just talked to one of my friends; she lives in an area where landslides went down. Two of her cousins died and she had to move," Louis said. "Some people don't have any food or clothing, because if it was in the mud, it's hard to get that out."
A number of groups, including the Dominica Association of St Thomas, Waseen Dominique, Dominican sporting clubs, Catholic Charities and numerous evangelical and church groups are involved in the relief efforts from the territory.
Roberts also wanted to clarify a misconception that seems to be going around.
"There seems to be a confusion between Dominica and the Dominican Republic," she said. "Dominica is between Guadeloupe and Martinique."
Mistaken locales aside, Roberts and Louis said they are grateful for the support coming from their friends and neighbours in the Virgin islands.
"I love my country, no matter what," Louis said. "I would love to be able to go back. I try not to miss a year without going there."
- Tribune Content Agency, LLC