Tree trunks block bridge at Checkhall
Tree trunks block bridge at Checkhall

Open Learning Centre, Cave Hill, Barbados, W.I. August 31, 2015 - The Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles and The University of the West Indies (The UWI) community are deeply distressed by the catastrophic events that continue to unfurl in the wake of the impact of Tropical Storm Erika on the Commonwealth of Dominica by its passage on Thursday, August 27, 2015. The loss of life as well as livelihoods is especially paining, not to mention the utter sense of despair that can threaten the outlook of an entire nation at such a time. Thankfully, the Caribbean remains one in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in our beloved Dominica.

The University of the West Indies, like other committed and loyal Caribbean institutions, stands ready to assist Dominica in recovering from this bleak period in our history. In light of the foregoing, Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles has already made contact with Prime Minister Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit to offer The UWI's assistance.

To expand, the Vice Chancellor is convening a cross-functional Task Force which comprises UWI colleagues with relevant expertise, including but not restricted to, engineers, sustainable development experts, health practitioners and others. This cross-functional team will consult on several areas of disaster mitigation/alleviation and post-recovery including issues of health, water and food security/safety, physical infrastructure and the like.

I also wish to reassure our students in Dominica who are apprehensive about the commencement of the Academic Year 2015/2016, that we are making every effort to address their academic concerns in a way that will do no violence to their academic quests with our regional institution. We know the distress that our students must feel not to mention the disruption in their lives and their own personal losses. We are attempting to ascertain the impact on our students and would sincerely appreciate that those reading or listening to this release contact us, if you can, to tell us about themselves and fellow students. I have spoken to a few students already.

I take this opportunity to commiserate with our Government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica on this unexpected natural event which not only involves infrastructural destruction, but the loss of many of our precious sisters and brothers, who only recently were with us as family and friends. The pain is imponderable. Even as we grieve, we hope for the safe return of the hitherto missing.