Fellow Dominicans, residents and friends.
Saturday, August 27th is exactly one year since we witnessed the wrath of Tropical Storm Erika.
I used the word wrath, because it best conjures up and recreates the scenes of devastation that would have unfolded across our nation, as this weather system unleashed its fury over Dominica, for the better part of eight hours.
In the months that followed, we have worked hard to reconstruct our lives and rebuild this beautiful nation of ours.
We are not yet where we would wish to be, in terms of the rebuilding effort, but I am sure all would agree, that , our progress has been remarkable, and we are on course to building-back-better, our beloved nature isle.
The process of rebuilding is not one that can be rushed and the reality is that replacing and rebuilding the entire damaged infrastructure and resettling displaced persons is a mammoth task. This Government is determined to build a stronger more resilient Dominica. This concept will be applied to our construction practices, and very importantly, to architectural and engineering designs. There will be greater emphasis placed on environmental issues and this will be appropriately reflected in our overall national land use policy. Simply put – we will build, to create a more secure future for current and future generations from any and all eventualities, down the road.
Dominicans will never forget the carnage that revealed itself, on the morning of August 28th, 2015. We have spoken about it repeatedly over the last 365 days, and since then, every single community has been touched in a positive way by the efforts we have made, as a government, and as a people, to reconstruct and recover from this ordeal.
The occasion of this first anniversary, is opportune for us to pause, and remember the many who lost their lives during that time. Family and friends are not likely ever to forget them. As a nation, it is important that we too remember those who perished and those who are still suffering, physically and emotionally, from the passage of Erika.
Infrastructural damage can be repaired and, indeed, our surroundings can and will be made better than before. But the emotional impact of Tropical Storm Erika shall forever be with us. Those who died have left a void that can never be filled. I believe it is incumbent upon us to intercede unceasingly on their behalf, and to celebrate their lives.
In this regard, the government has deliberately not opted for a sole commemorative national activity. Though this would be impactful, this would not be as far reaching as if every single Dominican made it his or her duty, this weekend, to offer a word of prayer and thanksgiving in memory of those who perished in the encounter with Erika and also, to pray for an ease in the physical and emotional pain still experienced by thousands in our midst.
I would therefore like to request ALL churches on Dominica to include in their services this weekend a special prayer for the victims of Tropical Storm Erika. We need to pray for the souls of those who are no longer with us, and for a healing – physical and emotional – of those who continue to carry and bear the pain of that tragic event.
My Brothers and Sisters, Dominica is a God fearing society. Even if you cannot make it to church, and I would hope that you make an effort to attend, I would like for every citizen and resident of this country, to stop for a moment this weekend, and intercede on behalf of the deceased, the bereaved and the afflicted.
I said a year ago and I reiterate now that the government shall erect a monument to honor victims of Erika. This will be done, when once we have returned a greater sense of normality to the lives of those displaced and most affected.
In the meantime, let us use the powerful weapon and armor of prayer, to their honor and relief.
Fellow citizens, residents and friends, one year has passed since the tragic night of August 27th, 2015. One year later, we are again challenged and charged with the responsibility of building-back-better, this nation of ours.
Let us use this weekend to memorialize those who we lost, pray for those still afflicted or displaced, pray that our Nation will be spared during this hurricane season and, very importantly, recommit to the task of building Dominica, better.
May God Bless you all. May God Bless The Commonwealth of Dominica.
I thank you.