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House on Queen Mary Street in Roseau after Hurricane David on August 29, 1979-Herry Royer photo
House on Queen Mary Street in Roseau after Hurricane David on August 29, 1979-Herry Royer photo

Wednesday, August 29, 1979, was a day when death came calling on the 150 mph winds of hurricane David.

It was about 9:00 a.m. when the raging winds of Hurricane David struck Dominica and literally tore everything apart on the island, Agnes Philogen recalled.

So ferocious were the winds she said, she literally thought she was in the middle of a tornado.

On that day, some 69 Dominicans perished while roads and bridges were swept away.

"Little streams were now massive rivers and the wind smashed down massive trees like twigs and during all of it me as a 14-year-old girl I just thought how will Dominica survive this," she said.

In the wake of the disaster, destruction had fallen upon every nook and cranny of the nation.

According to the now 56-year-old woman, the day started as an ordinary summer day with light rain.

Philogen said though there were talks of a hurricane, this was something they did not take too seriously which they later lived to regret.

As the morning wore on she said the winds came.

"My father had a small garden in the back and I noticed that the wind was destroying some of his crops. Then the little sunlight we had disappeared and the morning got dark. The wind started picking up and I heard our galvanize squeaking and groaning," Philogen said.

She said a look of panic fell on everyone's face as the wind raged louder.

She said when the rain came she along with her family of six were curled up in a bedroom.

As the time slowly passed and the hurricane was in no hurry to leave Dominica, it seemed like an eternity that they stood in their position drenched by the rain but too afraid to move because of the roaring winds.

"The house was groaning with each passing gust. My mother prayed all through and my younger siblings just cried," she said. "The sounds were nothing like I have ever heard before and to this day I am still traumatized by the wind."

Mercifully, the day, she said, had come to an end but not before the winds of David had stamped an indelible impression on the lives of an entire nation.

"Every single home was touched by Hurricane David. Where our outside kitchen and bathroom stood was a solid pile of wood and other debris. My mother and my father counted us as lucky having survived that hurricane and knowing what I know now I can too," Philogen said.

Hurricane David was once regarded as the 18th most destructive storm in all of recorded history. In Dominica, the Dominican Republic, and the United States 2, 068 souls were lost in that storm.

According to Philogen, though political tumult had splintered the country months prior to the hurricane, she is of the opinion that the rebuilding effort back then was easier because the assistance wasn't politicized as in recent times.

On August 27, 2015, Dominica yet again was faced with another deadly and destructive natural disaster, Tropical Storm Erika.

Unleashing 33 inches of rain on the island, Tropical Storm Erika caused widespread death and destruction in Dominica mainly in the Petite Savanne area as residents from that community had to be relocated.


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