3 September 2015 – 11:45am
Madam Speaker, as we are aware, Tropical Storm Erika passed through the Caribbean last week and left a path of destruction in its wake. Several islands including the Dominican Republic, Haiti, St. Croix and Dominica were affected by the storm. Thankfully the British Virgin Islands was spared.
As we all know, the most destructive impacts were felt across our sister country of Dominica on August 27. We all heard of the devastation and saw the heartbreaking images of roads that were washed out, homes that were damaged and an airport flooded.
As we read the reports of the widespread damage, the Government of the Virgin Islands recognised that regional support for the Government and people of Dominica is critical, and the Government of the Virgin Islands will do our part to assist during this difficult time.
Following the passage of the storm, I issued a letter to the Prime Minister of Dominica, Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit expressing our deep and sincere condolences to the Government, and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica on the devastation and loss of life caused by the passage of Tropical storm Erika.
I then made a public appeal to the people of the Territory to support any fundraising efforts that were organised to assist those affected by the storm.
But we realised that more needed to be done, and on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands, yesterday, I joined the regional and international communities in a demonstration of solidarity for the Government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica, and pledged US$100,000.00 towards the relief efforts in rebuilding the island.
Since the passage of the storm Madam Speaker, I am pleased to report that a number of civic and other organisations in the BVI have galvanised themselves to provide significant support, supplies and assistance to Dominica, and will continue to do so. My Government will also be partnering with community organisations to transport much needed supplies to Dominica.
These financial and in-kind donations are critical in helping Dominica to rebuild. We must understand the work that is needed in the event of any hazard impact, to ensure that the Dominican community can recover quickly and resume operations with little downtime.
In fact, just a few moments ago I spoke at the opening of the Business Recovery Workshop organised by the Department of Disaster Management and Tropical Shipping. I said that Governments cannot build their economies alone, or make them sustainable on their own. Madam Speaker, it takes regional Governments, along with private sector collaborations to make progress and have successful economies.
In closing Madam Speaker, we are a giving people and as part of the Caribbean community, my Government is proud of the initiative and generosity shown by the BVI community to Dominica. The island has a history of resilience and it is encouraging to see the quick and remarkable efforts by the people of Dominica to begin the recovery process.
My Government supports these efforts and I am confident that the country will once again stand strong.
I thank you.