This Travel2exoticPlaces post is a little different as it is about the devastation we have seen in the Caribbean in the Hurricane season of 2017. The post sums up a number of research documents and blogs on disasters in this unprecedented year.
We examines aid, funding, distribution and volunteer organizations and offer tips on the pros and cons of funding and volunteer agencies and initiatives. The question of global weather change and its impact on tropical disturbances is also examined.
Dominica Tourism in Ruins
Dominica, know as ‘Natures Island’, is ravaged; its forests, lush valleys and mountains left bare, reduced now to a sad burnt sienna, reduced to a soggy wet desert. Even the birds have disappeared. People are without everything. They desperately need water, food, medical supplies as well as aid to clear away fallen trees and uprooted house and rebuild infrastructure.
“The island is alive with coast guard helpers and civilian volunteers from all over the Caribbean, and from Canada, England, the USA, France, Germany and many European countries. Chain saws cut trees that block road, burly men and women in dungarees push and shove barrels of rubble and bulldozers plow the roads. People are building back their homes with sticks and shovels while the world sends in tools and supplies. There are agriculturalist planting in the bare land and aborists saving what the can of fallen trees. Even make shift saw mills are considered to reuse the wood for building. The Bare and sorry land has a vibrant spirit of resilience in spite of the devastating loss.” Source: irclay, AidDominica
This personal account by Guadiosa Ytac of Dominica puts everything in perspective.
“That night the waves were higher than the houses, higher even than the coconut trees,” Guadiosa Ytac says. “By morning, there was nothing left of my neighbour’s home on the seafront– not even a scrap of furniture. She was gone and so was her house. The sea took it all.” Source: The guardian.com
Is it Global Warming?
The one thing that is outstanding for 2017 is the fact that there are two Force 4 and two Force 5 hurricanes in just one month. Three major hurricanes hit the same area in three weeks.
Global warming has been blamed for the extreme strength and fury of these disturbances. While is not validated that global warning results in more tropical storms, the higher temperature in the oceans clearly has magnified the force of the hurricanes.
Colorado State University Scientist, Phil Klotzbach, says the number and strength of these storms in 2017 are unmatched with any storms in past memory. “The record is 10 major storms, which happened in 1878, 1886, and 1893. However, it is unlikely that those years really recorded 10 hurricanes in a row.”
Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen Research has predicted a 10-fold increase in frequency of high-intensity hurricanes if the climate becomes 2 ° C warmer.” We find that 0.4 ° C warming of the climate corresponds to doubling of the frequency of extreme storm. If the temperature rises an additional degree, the frequency will increase by 3-4 times and if the global climate becomes 2 ° C warmer, there will be approximately 10 times as many extreme storm surges,” explains Aslak Grinsted, climate scientist at Niels Bohr Institute.
Ambient temperature variations make the environment more volatile, and “a more unsettled atmosphere is more favourable for deep thunderstorm buildup, which is the building blocks of hurricanes,” Klotzbach says. In May, the NOAA anticipated the 2017 hurricane season would be above normal, citing cooling waters in the Pacific and forecasting two to four dangerous hurricanes.
Another reason of extreme weather is also related to the fact that the tropical Pacific was unusually cool. When that happens “you tend to get a lot more activity in the Atlantic, because colder Pacific waters chill the upper atmosphere” says Gabriel Vecchi, climate scientist at Princeton.
Large variations in temperature between the surface area and the upper atmosphere also contribute to the that lead to more hurricanes.
Lastly, there was reduced wind shear through the year. Wind shear is the abrupt changes in wind direction as you get higher and higher in the atmosphere. High wind shear is likely to blast the tops off storms and drains them of their force.” Low wind shear is the reason why storms like Irma were able to maintain 180 mph intensity for a day and a half” Klotzbach says.
The unpleasant reality is that sea temperature is now just under that 0.4 C rise. The total rise in temperature over the past thirty-five years is approx. 0.32 ° C.
Your Skills are Needed
There are volunteer organisations that are always seeking very specific skills needed in the rescue efforts. Medical people, like doctors and nurses, are always in demand. In the event of a hurricane, there is a need for all forms of skills including engineers, tree experts, construction trade people and certainly electricians and people of every skill.
Not all volunteer organizations are created alike, and you do need to check it out before you join. In addition you need to be sure that your particular skills are needed. Every situation is unique. At times a disaster region may get a lot of offers by people with a specific skills and none for crucial help needed right away.
In Dominica, amateur radio operators provided the only communications for the island, however there were no batteries so the radios did not work. Amateur Radio operators came to the rescue by donating equipment
Helping with Your Time and Donations
It often is daunting trying to sort through all the options for donating funds or supplies. All islands have overseas consulates that work with funding agencies in your area. Check with the consulate about the destination you want to fund as they can often help you not only select the right charity, but also advise what items they most need.
The major international funding organizations, like the RedCross, are very popular and well respected. However they don’t guarantee that your funds will go to the actual country you want. It is a universal aid service for all and they choose what to sent where. But it is often tax deductible and in some cases, such as in the UK, the government will match your donation. See more on Funding Agencies
How to Get the Best Out of Giving
The most important consideration is to be sure the programme you are donating to or joining is approved and is the best one. Be sure it is reputable and has a dedicated end-to-end response effort.
Before you run off to the stores for groceries and provisions, ensure your donations will be delivered safely and to the right people. In the early days after the disaster, handlers may be swamped with an unmanageable supply of supplies. Make sure that you choose a credible organisation. Many aid groups do outstanding work but in the event of a major disaster, it is normally the military and the coast guard that have the resources to fly in the needed relief personnel and to transport it where they are needed. The coast guard also collects goods donated by citizens. These contacts are on AidDominica.com.
When you are planning to partner with a donation organisation or a volunteering group, be certain that they are going to be permanent and last for the long term.
Keep in mind that The needs of those recovering from a disaster vary with time. Therefore, it’s important to follow what’s changing. Subscribe to Helpers Networks, such as the AidDominica Helpers’ Forum.
Recovery Forums & Donor Channels
There are many global disaster recovery, relief, response and news forums with a presence on the Net. Not many are specific to a particular disaster or a current island. Search for “Dominica Forum” or any destination forum and several travel vacation websites such as TripAdvisor appear showing promotions of places to stay and ratings of resorts. Even a Google search for forums on a specific island disaster will display many news sites with few real-time interactive disaster recover messaging sites. The issue is that the effected destination has generally had a systems wiped-out and in some cases, they cant’ even access the Net.
How You Can Help Dominica Recover from Hurricane Maria Disaster
The best way to help tourism recover is to plan a trip and visit the island. Check the Dominica Recovery Forum for the latest news and alerts on what working and what is not. The latest communiqué from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is on the forum and it shows many hotels now back in business.
Dominica Hotels and Accommodation open for the season:
• Atlantique View Resort
• Caribbean Seaview Apartments
• Classique International Guest House
• Coffeeriver Cottages
• Hibiscus Valley Inn
• Picard Family Guest House
• Pointe Baptiste Guest House
• Portsmouth Beach Hotel
• Rejens Hotel
• Rosalie Forest Eco Lodge
• St. James Guest House
• Suite Pepper Cottage
• Sunset Bay Club
• Tamarind Tree Hotel
Plan a trip to see for yourself what a force 5 Hurricane can do. your patronage will be most appreciated and will be a start to helping Dominica build back its amazing tourism industry and the Nature island. You will be amazed at how the trees and vegetation are rebounding in stride with a very resilient people.