How Hurricane Maria impacted Dominica

The Caribbean island of Dominica is a very special place. Our travellers go there to hike in the volcanic terrain, through rain and cloud forests, and to enjoy the coves and cornucopia of marine wildlife and birdlife. It is also known as the nature island of the Caribbean, and so we were devastated to hear that the destructive side of nature hit the island with devastating effect on 18 September 2017, in the form of Hurricane Maria. Thankfully, the loss of life in the island population of over 70,000 was not as severe as it could have been, although that is little comfort to the people who lost loved ones.

The damage

The physical devastation of Maria was vast. And although Dominicans are incredibly optimistic and community led, it is going to take time to clear the debris completely. However, after a period of intensive humanitarian aid, providing shelter, food and water, our friends on the ground now tell us that businesses are opening again. They may need some cosmetic work attending to, but they are open and ready to welcome people with open arms. Dominican style. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the waves are lapping. Some businesses which were particularly badly hit are also hosting visitors who would like to volunteer on restoration and landscaping work.

Please donate. Please.

AWhen Hurricane Maria struck, we took advice from our partners on the ground, and recommended the Disaster Relief Fund set up by the Dominica High Commission, so do please give generously. The price of a takeaway on a Friday night is equivalent to a week’s food and water for a family made homeless. And that is still the case today, so even though it has disappeared from the news, please don't forget to help.

Are we still selling holidays to Dominica?

Yes we are. And it is important that we keep travelling to Dominica. Businesses will be very upfront about damage caused, services that might still be wobbly, but if they are on the site then they are happy to host.

A word from our friends

In the meantime, here are some poignant words from some of our leading suppliers in the region:

Michael Eugene, founder of our supplier Jungle Trekking Adventures and Safaris: “We’ve certainly been battered by Hurricane Maria with a bleak future and outlook ahead. I'm still trying to wrap my head around my next moves. There is an issue of security at this time, and most hotels have sustained major damage. Utilities are still out… and all of the population has been impacted in a major way. These translate into an environment that may be unprepared to receive visitors at this time. We at Jungle Trekking Adventures and Safaris are very risk averse and wary of not being able to deliver on the itinerary at this time, and so we have chosen to cancel all tours until January 18. My family is all safe and we did suffer property damage, which was not as bad as many others. Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers… please keep them going.”

Vivianne McGrath, from our supplier MotMot Travel:
“Dominica is near and dear to us at MotMot Travel. It is where Gilbert and I were born and the island has welcomed so many of you on holiday over the past 12 years. Dominicans desperately need all our help and generosity to rebuild, now and for years to come. Please help the wonderful people of Dominica by visiting the Dominica High Commission site or if you prefer you can donate to the Official Dominica Hurricane Relief Fund via Just Giving.”

“We have had official notice from two hotels so far. One from Cocoa Cottages to say they are closed until further notice, and the other from Rosalie Bay who are closed until January. We have not heard from our contacts in other smaller places and we are very worried about them. It is going to take a long time to recover.”

“Most destinations in the Caribbean remain open for business. All of these, including Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, Barbados and Cuba are doing everything they can to help Dominica and other stricken Caribbean neighbours. The whole region is in need of our support and the best way to do this, is to keep visiting these wonderful islands. We will donate £50 from every new booking to this fund.”
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Banco Mundial América Latina y el Caribe] [Topbox: Roosevelt Skerrit]