Hurricane Maria One Year Later: Dominica Rebuilds Homes, Schools Thanks to Food For The Poor Donors
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Aug. 28, 2018) Homes are being rebuilt. Schools are getting new roofs. Electricity once again powers lights and cooling fans. But all it takes is a summer squall to bring back vivid memories for those in Dominica who survived the fury unleashed by Hurricane Maria almost one year ago.
Many businesses have reopened in the capital city of Roseau, and electricity has been restored to most places islandwide. But the recovery has been daunting, especially in rural areas, and some are still living in tarp-covered homes damaged by the storm.
"We are a resilient people," said Sister Henrietta Pond, of R.E.A.C.H. (Reaching Elderly Abandoned Citizens Housebound), Food For The Poor's partner in Dominica. "But the memory of Maria lingers in our minds."
The robust recovery effort, as a result of the aid pouring into Dominica from Food For The Poor, is prompting its leaders to thank the charity and show its gratitude at a gala set for Oct. 13 in Toronto.
"The road to recovery after a natural disaster like a major hurricane is never easy, and it's been especially difficult for our brothers and sisters in Dominica," said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. "Hurricane Maria destroyed so much, but it did not destroy the will of the people. In spite of all the challenges, the people of Dominica are rebuilding their lives. None of what we do would be possible without our donors or God's blessing."
Food For The Poor donors have continued to send critical aid to the island to help those struggling to recover. The charity has shipped 107 containers of aid to Dominica since the storm.
Items included commercial-grade and standby generators, propane stoves, tarps, flashlights, batteries, canned goods, water, diapers, hygiene kits, zinc sheets and nails, roof straps, ridge caps, lumber, plywood, folding beds and mattresses, student desks and chairs, desks for teachers, canned food, MannaPack rice meals, evaporated milk and rice.
"Food For The Poor has made a great impact on many lives here in Dominica. The donors are still doing that," said Sister Pond. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's not always what you give. Sometimes it's just picking up the phone and asking how we are doing."
Food For The Poor's office in Canada sent two containers – one of zinc and one of lumber and Food For The Poor-Jamaica shipped five containers of food, clothing and other relief items.
Aid also poured in from the charity's partners. The United Way of Miami-Dade provided a generous donation to cover the cost of zinc and lumber to repair damaged homes. And six schools in Dominica were repaired and received new furniture, thanks to the generosity of the Miami Foundation and its donation to Food For The Poor.
The supplies provided by Food For The Poor's donors and partners have reached 28 communities comprising about 15,000 people in Dominica.
Earlier this year, the charity delivered a heavy duty forklift capable of lifting empty containers to help reduce congestion at the port and unload aid faster in Dominica's tiny port.
Water continues to be a necessity. When tropical rains threaten to flood streams, officials sometimes shut off water service to prevent muddy water from flowing into taps.
According to news reports, more than 30 people were killed in Dominica when the storm slammed into the island on Sept. 18, 2017, as a catastrophic Category 5 storm. It was the first landfall in a path that also devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Many of Dominica's 74,000 residents were forced to live in shelters, stay with relatives or leave the island after the storm and find jobs elsewhere.
"It is not surprising to me that we have bounced back because we are such a resilient people," said Sister Pond. "We are the type of people who do not like to just sit down. We don't wait for the government to help us. We do what we can. If we cannot, we ask for help."
Food For The Poor will be honored by Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit during a gala in Toronto on Oct. 13 for its role in assisting Dominica after Hurricane Maria. The Dominica Rising Benefit Gala will mark the island's 40th anniversary of independence.
Food For The Poor Vice President Mark Khouri will accept an award on behalf of all the Food For The Poor entities who sent aid. Also attending the gala will be Bishop Oge Beauvoir, Executive Director of Food For The Poor-Haiti; David Mair, Executive Director of Food For The Poor-Jamaica; and Samantha Mahfood, Executive Director of Food For The Poor-Canada.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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