The Cayman Islands government has donated US$500,000 toward the recovery effort in Dominica, the small eastern Caribbean island devastated by Tropical Storm Erika late last month.
In addition, Premier Alden McLaughlin noted that a Cayman Airways plane would be made available if needed to carry foodstuffs and other supplies to the nearest available point to Dominica. The small island’s only airport was shuttered as a result of damage from the storm and remained closed on Monday.
The Aug. 27 storm killed at least 31 people, and dozens of other island residents remain missing. Erika also destroyed 371 houses on the island, which is home to about 72,000 people.
Noting Grand Cayman’s experiences with Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Cayman Brac’s devastation during Hurricane Paloma in 2008, Premier McLaughlin said the damage and destruction facing Dominica was “much worse than we could even contemplate here,” due to the geography of the small island nation.
“It is a very mountainous country with lots of rivers and bridges,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Thirteen bridges were taken out … and entire sections of the island have been cut off. Thirty-one people are dead. They are all our Caribbean brothers and sisters. We think [donating money and supplies] is the only right and Christian thing to do.”
The premier asked the Cayman Islands private sector to consider making additional donations to assist Dominica with its recovery. Cable & Wireless Communications, which owns LIME in Cayman, has started a text message donation campaign where customers can donate $1 per text message by sending the word “HELP” to the number 4357.
The local Dominican community in Cayman has also sought to organize dry food donations and other supplies through a Windsor Park church and its minister Martin Royer, Mr. McLaughlin said.
The Cayman Islands Red Cross has opened a special bank account for Dominica donations from the Cayman community. The agency noted that the local Dominican community will be organizing fundraising events and any funds raised may be directed through Butterfield account number 840035054-0072. Donations will be made in U.S. dollars.
Supply deliveries are being made difficult by the fact that Dominica’s airport is closed due to damage from the storm. “If there are sufficient goods, dry food items … other necessities available in Cayman, we will make Cayman Airways available to fly to the nearest country,” Mr. McLaughlin said.