Petite Savanne evacuees: Words cannot describe the pain
Roseau, Dominica: 3rd September 2105-As the people of Petite Savanne struggle to come to grips with their painful problems cultural elder Athenia Darroux, 68, says she is saddened by the devastation of her beloved village.
Tropical Storm Erika has left a trail of destruction, death and injury in that community of about 750 residents. To date 538 people have been evacuated among them 85 year old Rose-Ann Baron who is bedridden.
Darroux has lived all her life in Petite Savanne and now she has to relocate.
"I don't even know what to say. I am feeling very bad about the entire situation. I have cried so much already. Right now my heart is just pumping and pumping and I am afraid," she told the SUN.
Darroux said the devastation was "the worst that I have seen." She recounted the events as it unfolded that morning of Thursday, August 27, 2015.
"I was preparing coffee to bring for an elderly man that I am taking care of. At about 7am, I just saw something coming down like a monster. I told my husband let us get out of there because I saw danger. He did not listen immediately but I ran out and started to scream telling the people that my husband is dead and my house is gone. Some guys, with the help of my son, came to rescue him and he was taken away and when we looked below we just saw disaster. If you see what happened you will be shocked…praise God I am still alive," Darroux said.
She continued: "From where I am living, I have never seen a landslide like that. In fact it missed my house. All what we have spent years building in the community is gone. The bay oil cooperative just exploded and killed all those who were working. It's just a sad day for us in Petite Savanne and we will never forget that event."
Like all those evacuated, leaving home was difficult but they had no choice.
"I now have to start all over again; I don't know yet where that will be. I will miss Petite Savanne, the unity, the koudmen, the cultural aspects, the people we all lived together as one, the bay-leaf and the quietness in the community. But what can we now do but to accept things since it is God's will and He will see us through because we depend on Him," she said.
Peter Gregoire is a public servant who was also evacuated. He says he is "delighted" to be out even if it was hard to leave his home.
"I am very happy to be out…it has been rough and difficult for us but the devastation has set us back. I now have to relocate but not sure where yet," Gregoire stated.
Joanna Guiste, Clerk of the Petite Savanne Village Council said it has been "very difficult" for them over the past few days.
"We welcome the evacuation process because it has been very difficult for us and we were in a state of helplessness since we had no communication," she said.
Recounting the events of the storm she said: "Oh my God…it is been…words cannot express, I live in an upper area and when I look down and see the kind of devastation that I saw… Oh my, it was heart breaking," she said sobbing.
Edward Thomas chairman of the Petite Savanne Village Council called the situation "a tragedy" as he cried.
Cuthbert Paris described the storm as "terrifying" and said he has never seen such destruction.
"All I can say is that it's the work of God and nobody can fight that. But it's heart breaking given the amount of deaths that we have and also those who are still missing. Everybody is in a crisis, one pain one suffering and we now need people to come together as one in friendship and unity," he said.
Anelta Hilaire-Francis said she has been on the sea shore for the past two days with her children "trying to get out of the village."
"It's hard and difficult to leave; to take in and swallow what has happened to us," she said as she boarded the Barbados Coast Guard Trident for the 90-minute boat ride across the Atlantic Ocean to a safe shelter in Roseau.