St Lucia’s Prime Minister Kenny Anthony had the opportunity to see first-hand the extent of destruction caused by Tropical Storm Erika, when he paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Tuesday.
Anthony arrived via helicopter at the Canefield Airport just outside the capital, Roseau, where he met briefly with Skerrit before heading off on the short tour.
“We have gone through similar experiences, particularly with our trough in December 2013. Although we did not suffer the full extent of the loss of life that you have suffered but we understand the emotions involved,” Anthony told journalists.
Nine communities have been declared disaster areas as the country continues clean up and search and rescue operations in the wake of the storm which claimed 31 lives and caused severe damage to infrastructure, which Skerrit said has set the country back 20 years.
Anthony called on the people of Dominica to remain strong in the face of the latest tragedy to hit the island.
“We are a remarkable people in the Caribbean, we’ve gone through several cycles of distress and we have made it in St Lucia, and I hope that my presence here can inspire more courage, more resilience.
“Perhaps more than any other country in the Caribbean we understand the spirit and the soul of the people of Dominica. We share so much in common that as often as we get on our knees we have to stand up again. And I’m certain that the people of Dominica will stand up and rebuild their country,” he said.
He also appealed to the public to work together to rebuild the country, while providing support to those who have lost loved ones.
“It’s not going to be easy because it’s unexplainable loss. At the same time we have the responsibility to nurse them back. Nurse them to be strong as they face the distress and the pain and anguish of that loss.”
Meanwhile Skerrit has announced that Cabinet agreed to waive all charges for relief aid, and also lifted restrictions on persons going to Dominica to help.
International money transfer service Western Union has also announced a suspension of fees for all transfers to Dominica in the wake of the storm.