POINTE MICHEL, Dominica – In the southwestern community of Pointe Michel the anniversary of Hurricane Maria is a milestone Patrick Lendor is unlikely to miss for as long as he lives.
Lendor lost nine family members when the Category 5 megacylcone battered the island two years ago, in the northern Windward island’s worst natural disaster.
Maria left behind 65 people dead. The damage was estimated at US$1.37 billion or 226 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Lendor told Barbados TODAY: “I lost nine of my family members and I haven’t gotten over it yet.
“I used to be a churchgoer but I lost all my clothes, everything [is] gone.
“My fridge, my radio, I had three radios, now everything gone.”
But Lendor said he is not satisfied that the government in Roseau has done enough to help him get back on his feet.
Labourer Romanus Jno Charles has vivid memories of the night of September 18.
He said: “From the time it was 6:30 we started to feel bad weather. [There was] a big tamarind tree that was there for over 50 years, it fell down about quarter past nine in the night.
“Seventeen people died in Pointe Michel. I lose my house, the top of my roof [was] gone, a lot of people died.” Maria was for him the “baddest” hurricane he has seen in Dominica.
Further south, in the village of Soufriere, is the recently re-opened Jungle Bay eco villas.
The hotel was previously situated at the southern community of Petite Savanne, but was destroyed by Tropical Storm Erika in 2015.
After delays caused by Hurricane Maria two years later, the first phase was reopened in July this year. Owner and developer Sam Raphael told Barbados TODAY he is impressed with the rebuilding efforts in Dominica so far.
He said: “The reconstruction of Dominica has been an interesting thing to look at and to be a part of.
“I don’t think that anyone thought that we would be back where we are in such a short period of time, or we would have the infrastructure of the island almost completely rebuilt even better than it was before in a two-year period.
“This is, for an independent country, that doesn’t have a great support host like the United States or the EU behind it, I think it’s phenomenal that the people of Dominica have worked diligently, I think Dominicans are just resilient in nature, so we got together and worked on rebuilding the island and the results are there for all to see.
For Anthony Alexander, who runs a gas station in the community of Scotts Head, on the island’s southern tip, the memories are still fresh.
He said: “It was very hard for me and my family because I lost my entire roof… and myself and my wife we had to hide in a cupboard to get away from that hurricane.
“People died in Pointe Michel; people died here as well. The sea was about ten or 15 feet high, the wind was also 150 miles per hour.
“It was very hard on us, but for now I can say the country start moving a little bit. But plenty needs to be done and I think with the present prime minister [Roosevelt Skerrit] things will be done.”
On Thursday, the government will hold a memorial and thanksgiving service at Roseau’s Windsor Park stadium to observe the second anniversary of the hurricane’s passage.
A contingent from the Barbados Coast Guard, which was among the earliest overseas first responders to the hurricane, is to take part in the commemoration. Coast Guard Lieutenant Anderson Goodridge, captain of the HMBS Rudyard Lewis, is expected to deliver an address at the ceremony on behalf of the Barbados Defence Force.