TRINIDAD TO ASSIST DOMINICA

T&T mobilizing to send help to devastated Dominica

…coast guard, defense force preparing

This Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, GOES East satellite image provided by NASA taken at 20:30 UTC, shows the eye of Hurricane Maria as it nears Dominica. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday evening that Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter planes found that Maria had strengthened into a storm with 160 mph (260 kph) winds. (NASA via AP)

In Response to a desperate appeal for help from our sister Caribbean country, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is mobilizing to send assistance to Dominica devastated by a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Maria overnight.

According to a statement from the Office of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, coordination is at this time taking place under the leadership of the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs.

“It is envisaged that as soon as it is safe, a National Helicopter Services Limited helicopter will be sent to Dominica with Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force personnel.

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard is also preparing to send a supply vessel and to take Defence Force personnel as well as supplies up to Dominica”.

Later today further announcements will be made as to where the public can drop off goods and supplies to be transported to assist the citizens of Dominica.

The scope of the destruction is only now becoming know with daylight. The country is 750 square kilometres in size, more than twice the size of Tobago, and it has a population if about 72,000.

As the hurricane ravaged the island overnight, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skeritt posted on social media: “My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding”.

In the early hours today, he wrote: “Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.

So, far the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with. The roof to my own official residence was among the first to go and this apparently triggered an avalanche of torn away roofs in the city and the countryside.

Come tomorrow morning we will hit the road, as soon as the all clear is given, in search of the injured and those trapped in the rubble.

I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating…indeed, mind boggling. My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured.

We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds.

It is too early to speak of the condition of the air and seaports, but I suspect both will be inoperable for a few days. That is why I am eager now to solicit the support of friendly nations and organisations with helicopter services, for I personally am eager to get up and get around the country to see and determine what’s needed”.

The hurricane is now barreling towards Guadeloupe.

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