In Search of the Sisserou: A Q&A Interview Along The Syndicate Trail

Thanks to Emonews Emonews for the new video from Dominica, featuring an interview with former Forestry Department officer Bertrand along the Syndicate Trail in the foothills of Morne Diablotin National Park. Have you seen the Sisserou Parrot post-Maria? What if the Sisserou Parrot goes extinct due to Maria? What effect would this have on Dominica’s national heritage? The interview covers these questions and more. Hope you’ll have a listen!

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Together for a Single Purpose: Impressions of Dominica by Al Shep Lowe

Al Shep Lowe, organizer of Dominica Disaster Relief Mission, returned to Dominica on a humanitarian mission a few weeks after Maria’s impact. He’s posted regular updates day-by-day, sharing his impressions of an island much-changed since his idyllic visit this past summer. I’d like to share his latest journal entry and a few of his astonishing photos here, summing up his recent odyssey across the Nature Island.

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Some 14 days ago we arrived in Dominica with unknown expectations. Just two months earlier we had luxuriated in the warm waters of Bubble Beach, bathed in the Sulfur pools, swam in Titou Gorge, and scuba-dived the life-filled pinnacles of Scott’s Head. Dominica felt like a true paradise just an eyeblink ago.

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Then came Maria.

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Our modest attempt to raise a few dollars for disaster relief quickly blossomed into a full fledged Dominica Disaster Relief Mission! Friends, family, strangers and newfound friends came together for a single purpose: to aid those in need. Most had never met a Dominican. Some had never heard of Dominica, but that didn’t matter.

We were able to procure literally thousands and thousands of meals: 57,000 in total! We had so many donations of food, clothing, and household goods that we had to stop accepting them. We had no room left in the 20 foot shipping container.

When we approached Dominica by ferry, reality began to set in. Our memories of Dominica were those of a magnificent, green, and lush land. Now we were seeing brown mountains stripped of vegetation. The trees that remained standing had few (if any) leaves, torn bark, and obvious signs of salt burning. As our eyes and minds adjusted, we began to see structures broken, destroyed, and missing: familiar places reduced to rubble. Restaurants where we had dined on local delicacies a few weeks ago were now just a mark in the dirt.

Once we docked and debarked the ferry, we were met with clouds of dust so fine that it was the consistency of sifted flour. As automobiles passed the dust kicked up more. We found it necessary at times to lift our shirt necks above our noses to breath. No power, limited clean drinking water, heat, and mosquitoes greeted us as we passed through customs.

We were ready to meet the Dominican people. In what frame of mind would we find them?

We met a powerful people who had survived a night of hell. In spite of the shock, they had emerged from the ruins and destruction to aid their neighbors and community. A few, however, had faced the new day with an opposite mindset, creating a second storm of looting. This second storm was in some ways worse than Maria herself. The looting of surviving businesses further damaged an already fragile economy. Stores still stocked with supplies and materials– businesses prepared to reopen– now had bare shelves. Their wares stolen, many business owners were forced to close their doors and walk away. With savings tied up in now-looted inventory, these businesses were left with nothing, as insurance coverage too often refused compensation. These merchants were left with no choice but to send employees away, take down their signs, and abandon their shops.

70In other areas the water washed away roads and bridges, making it nearly impossible to reach certain villages. These villages would find themselves isolated and surviving on their own for days and weeks without outside aid.

As we distributing relief supplies across the island, islanders everywhere told us stories of a life and death battle against unimaginable winds and water, landslides and flooding, and the tragic loss of loved ones.

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In our time on Dominica, we witnessed the green creeping slowly back to many areas, but oddly it appeared that the return would not be quick on the mountain tops. For whatever reason, the peaks remained brown, as if in an autumn transitioning to winter.

11Through it all though we discovered the people of Dominica’s inner strength, their indomitable hope and desire to see not only themselves come back to where they were pre-Maria, but to help their neighbors and community find their way back as well.46In time the mountains will green up and the appearance of fall will transform to spring and summer. The people will continue their daily routines serene in their life in paradise, tourists will return, businesses will start– and in a few years the scars on the landscape left by Maria will be hidden under a canopy of life returned to the cool misty air of the Dominican rain forest.66

Please contribute to Dominica Disaster Relief Mission’s ongoing aid efforts here.

The Phoenix Rises: Healing Words from Denus William

Truth from Denus William as the Nature Island heals today:

#Life will go on !! #Earth is #mighty & #resilient ,and has several #billion years under her belt. When people talk about #savingearth we would more frame it as #saving ourselves. Doing so requires us to #radically #change our relationship to #nature ,and to #see the #world as a #living #organism of which we are #apart , not the #owner nor #tenant , not even a #passenger
#Onelove 

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On September 18 / 2017 the #natureisle #dominica experienced the #devastating #hurricaneMarie  #Discover her #beauty through her #rebirth of #newbloom #newtrails #mysticalwaterfalls #Newenergy #vibrate #higher #body #mind #soul

Please follow Denus’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dreamlandheals/

In Search of Paradise Lost

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Trafalgar Falls, Dominica, Pre-Maria

Welcome to Eden Is Broken, a personal narrative devoted to the fate of Caribbean nature in the Age of the Superstorm. An exploration of island paradises past and present, this website places special emphasis on the step-by-step recovery of Dominica’s rainforest and wildlife in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

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The site is named in honor of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. The Prime Minister’s seventeen-minute address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2017, just five days after Cat 5 Maria made landfall on the once-pristine Nature Island of the Caribbean, was delivered as an appeal for immediate disaster aid– as well as a global wake-up call in the face of catastrophic climate change. Key points of the address are excerpted here:

With physical and emotional difficulty, I have left my bleeding nation to be with you here today because these are moments for which the United Nations exist…In the case of Dominica, it has been two years since we lost lives and endured substantial physical and infrastructural damage from the ravages of the floods and mud slides of Tropical Storm Ericka.

To deny climate change is to procrastinate while the earth sinks; it is to deny a truth we have just lived.

It is to mock thousands who in a few hours, without a roof over their heads, will watch the night descend on Dominica in fear of sudden mud slides and what the next hurricane may bring…

But what is our reality at this moment? Pure devastation, as Dominicans bear the brunt of climate change. We are shouldering the consequences of the actions of others. Actions that endanger our very existence and all for the enrichment of a few elsewhere…

We dug graves today in Dominica. We buried loved ones yesterday and I am sure that as I return home tomorrow, we shall discover additional fatalities, as a consequence of this encounter. Our homes are flattened. Our buildings roofless. Our water pipes smashed and road infrastructure destroyed. Our hospital is without power and schools have disappeared beneath the rubble. Our crops are uprooted. Where there was green there is now only dust and dirt.

The desolation is beyond imagination. Mr. President, fellow leaders– the stars have fallen. Eden is broken.

The nation of Dominica has come here to declare an international humanitarian emergency. One that is centered in Dominica, but also encompasses many of our neighbors, including our sister isle Antigua, which had to evacuate its citizens from Barbuda.

The time has come for the international community to make a stand and to decide whether it will be shoulder to shoulder with those suffering the ravages of climate change worldwide. Whether we can mitigate the consequences of unprecendented increases in sea temperatures and levels; whether to help us rebuild sustainable livelihoods; or whether the international community will merely show some pity now, and then flee, relieved to know that this time it was not you.

We will rebuild our Garden of Eden again for our children and for future generations.

Navy continues evacuations from Dominica
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Molina

Eden Is Broken is dedicated to everyone affected by Maria’s wrath, to the long road toward recovery of the livelihoods and ecology of the island– and to Dominica’s national bird: the Imperial amazon, a parrot species older than the island itself.

One of two parrots native to Dominica, the Imperial– known locally as the Sisserou– is the island jewel at the heart of this site, just as it comprises the center of Dominica’s national flag. The fate of the Sisserou and the ecological health of its only island home are inextricably woven with the future prosperity of Dominica’s people.

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Dominica’s flag with Sisserou as National Emblem

Please join me in search of the Caribbean’s imperiled Edens, from the time before Columbus, to the aftermath of Maria– and beyond.

Continue reading “In Search of Paradise Lost”