This week I discovered another interesting commonality between Louisiana and Dominica. August 29th is a day traditionally associated with difficult memories and collective loss in both of these places that I call home. Hurricane David bore down on Dominica on August 29th 1979 and Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans on August 29th 2005. Kind of eerie….
Most of us are familiar with Hurricane Katrina’s destruction due to the vast television and media coverage. Not so with Hurricane David. Hurricane David was a category 5 when it landed on Dominica. I cannot imagine hunkering down during a cat 5 surrounded by water on all sides. How terrifying. The people of Dominica were essentially unprepared and unsuspecting when David hit. Dominica was already a struggling country- just gaining it’s independence in 1978, lacking resources and hurricane worthy buildings (but even if it hadn’t been, we have all seen through Katrina what can happen with overwhelming winds and water in a country that is well developed). Not even the layers of glorious mountains on the island were able to hide Dominica from David’s fury. David leveled homes, hillsides, trees, crops/vegetation-virtually all Dominica had. There were massive land slides and road blocks that left the island very crippled for an extended period of time. Lives were lost and the majority of the population, especially in the Roseau area, were left homeless.
From the locals I have talked to that experienced the storm, they say that a lot of Dominicans left the island after that, never to return. For those that stayed, recovery was a long and tedious process. There was looting and food rationing along with many other sufferings. Thankfully, several countries came to the aid of Dominica to help her get back on her feet.
You can read more about remembering Hurricane David here at the website of the Dominican.net .
Here is a picture of what is going on today, August 29th, 2010 in the Atlantic, as I write…