On September 18, 2017, Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster in the history of Dominica, ravaged this small island nation. Wind gales reached 160 mph, which tore through the country, damaging 90% of all structures and knocking out all power, water and telecommunications. Hurricane Maria also obliterated 100% of agriculture, which is a major source of their annual income. Damages and losses were estimated at USD $1.3m, or 224% of Dominica’s GDP. Sadly, 31 individuals lost their lives through this devastating disaster, whilst a further 3,000 individuals were displaced. Our team stepped in to help with the island’s greatest recovery needs; getting children back to school and roofs back on homes.
We focused our efforts on rebuilding schools and repairing residential roofs. Following the completion of our first project; rebuilding the Paix Bouche Pre and Primary School in the St. Andrew Province, we shifted focus to rebuilding the Morne Prosper Pre and Primary School in St. George Province as well as the start of our third school project at Charlotte’s Preschool in Newton. Our work was centered around Build Back Better techniques to make schools and roofs resistant against future hurricanes and earthquakes. We worked closely with the Ministry of Education, other NGOs, the schools and local communities, essential work which created much safer homes and more resilient learning environments, which will also serve as evacuation shelters for surrounding communities.
In response to the housing crisis in Dominica, our teams worked to help repair and rebuild many of the roofs that were destroyed during the devastating 2017 hurricanes. The project initially focused on the small coastal town of Calibishie and thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and partners, our efforts in Calibishie were a success and we set up roofing projects in the Morne Prosper area. With over 90% of roofs lost during Hurricane Maria, this was an area of great need in Dominica. Repairing roofs in a disaster-resilient way is essential in not only rebuilding communities but rebuilding hope for the future.
Whilst our efforts in Dominica have come to an end, there is still much work to be done around the globe.
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All Hands and Hearts team captured first-hands accounts from students, teachers, and community members impacted by the hurricanes.