WITH telecommunications destroyed on the hurricane-ravaged island of Dominica, one of the only means of getting word out to the world is from amateur Ham radio operators.
And families desperate for news on their loved ones, the information being shared is bad - people are feared dead.
On a scale of one to ten, the damage was put at nine. Almost all the homes with damaged, with many completely destroyed, the Ham operators reported.
“Everything is down. Roads are block. The power lines have fallen. Some concrete homes are standing but the windows are blown out. 100 per cent of house have suffered damage” one Ham operator reported.
Particularly hard hit by the Category 5 hurricane Maria overnight is the northern part of the island where the university is located and where many international students reside.
A full assessment of the scope of the damage done to the island overnight is being undertaken by emergency management authorities.
Images of the damage were not available up to Tuesday afternoon.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who had to be rescued from his collapsing residence during the worst of the storm, has called for international aid.
“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" he said.
This is how T&T is responding
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has initiated the mobilisation of various emergency support agencies to render assistance to Dominica following the passage of Hurricane Maria.
A meeting was convened at the Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon and the Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister the Stuart Young to coordinate this country's relief response to Dominica.
Participating in the meeting were the following: the Ministry of National Security's Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) and the Trinidad and Tobago Immigration Division; as well as the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs; Caribbean Airlines Limited; and National Helicopter Services Limited.
Discussions focused on Trinidad and Tobago's supporting role within the regional response mechanism and the conduct of initial damage assessment.
The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force along with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), as partners within the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), has identified six (6) persons to form part of a Rapid Needs Assessment Team and Operational Support Team.
The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard have also readied personnel and maritime assets to transport emergency relief supplies to Dominica. Further, it is anticipated that a National Helicopter Services Limited helicopter will be sent to Dominica accompanied by Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Personnel.
The ODPM, as the official information coordinating agency in Trinidad and Tobago will continue to communicate with CDEMA with respect to the provision of assistance and establishing critical needs items. In the interim, persons wishing to provide assistance to Dominica can contact the Office of the Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), the coordinating agency, via telephone at emergency number 511 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ministry of National Security wishes to reiterate that Trinidad and Tobago remains willing to assist our CARICOM neighbours affected by severe weather systems and will respond accordingly in consideration of our present economic realities, while ensuring that our ability to respond to any eventuality at home remains a priority.