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Hundreds in shelters in storm-hit Dominica

sheltROSEAU--More than 400 people are now in shelters across Dominica following the destruction of 271 houses across the country – the vast majority from Petit Savanne, which was evacuated after being declared one of nine special disaster areas – by floods and landslides caused by Tropical Storm Erika’s heavy rains. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) says approximately 405 persons are in eight shelters across the island.

In its latest situation report on Dominica on Thursday, a week after Erika passed, CDEMA said 709 people had been evacuated from Petit Savanne – a village in the southeast of the island that was the worst affected by the storm, and from which most of the more than 25 who died came. Of the houses destroyed, 217 were in Petit Savanne while the other 54 were in other parts of the country.

As for the damage caused to the infrastructure, CDEMA said several communities remain cut-off as a result of damage to roadways and bridges and the clearing of roads blocked by debris is ongoing; efforts to restore mobile and Internet services are underway; all radio stations and two television stations are operational; three hospitals and 43 health centres are operational; the Douglas-Charles Airport remains closed; the Canefield Airport is open to helicopters and small aircraft; all sea ports are open; 22 of the island’s 75 primary and secondary schools are either unreachable or damaged resulting in the postponement of the opening of the school term to September 21; and some early childhood centres are also damaged, although the extent and number are yet to be ascertained.

However, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit reported earlier this week that preliminary assessments indicate that Dominica suffered over EC $500 million (US$185 million) in damage to its infrastructure.

At a press briefing Wednesday evening, he reported that there was more than $612.7 million (US$227 million) in damage to the country’s main roads and bridges alone; it would take $39.5 million (US$14.6 million) to get the main airport, the Douglas-Charles Airport, back into operation; and the clean-up cost is estimated at $12 million (US$4.4 million).

A total of 35 people are still missing, including 14 from the storm-torn Petite Savanne.

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