By Kenneice McLeod-Shillingford, Dominica Red Cross
Peering keenly through binoculars, August Charles, 65, a returning resident to the Caribbean island of Dominica, sits and watches all who those venture through the small village of Dos D’ane. As he keeps watch, he recalls the horrors he witnessed during hurricane Maria.
“Oh, I’ve seen it all,” he says, “it was here that I stood and watched as a house with 3 people go down the same river as the church, the shop and two cars, it was bad.”
Dos D’ane, located on the Northern side of the small island, was one of the many villages that was devastated by the flooding waters and the whipping winds of Hurricane Maria.
Left without electricity or water, the communities where to forced to find ways to endure. Many knew that electrical reconnection would be months away and therefore they turned to addressing their most basic need – water.
As he stood playing with his grandson, Jai, age 2, August shared with us that luckily for his village, they are located close to a ’sous’- a natural spring. Although it would take only 10 minutes to get to the spring by car, many residents either couldn’t afford a car or had cars that were destroyed by the hurricane, leaving them having to walk over half an hour, longer even for those who lived further away, in the other surrounding villages.
For months after Hurricane Maria, many individuals had to look forward to the repetitive, long and tedious walks over steep hills and deep slopes, in order to return with their arms full of heavy buckets and bottles of water.
Thankfully, the Dominica Red Cross and the International Media Corps stepped in December 2017 to provide potable water to Dos D’ane and the surrounding communities of Paix Bouche, Bense, Thibaud, Belmanier, Anse de Mai, Borne, and Moore Park.
“If it wasn’t for the Red Cross, I don’t know what we would have done.” August said, “ everything is much easier for us, and I’m sure the water is helping the other communities, as well.”
When asked if he knew when the local water company, DOWASCO (Dominica Water and Sewage Company) would be restoring the water he replied, “I have no idea when they will reach us, I just know that the (Dominican) Red Cross has been a huge help and people who do not have transportation have not been struggling for water, as they had been doing before.”