Prime Minister Skerrit addresses nation on Independence Day
Prime Minister Skerrit addresses nation on Independence Day

Saying that when Tropical Storm Erika severely affected Dominica in August 2015 many Caribbean islands came to the island's aid, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Friday asked Dominicans to reciprocate.

"Today, the people of two sister Caribbean countries in particular, Haiti and The Bahamas, are in a similar situation, and, in the case of Haiti, far worse, as the death toll from the ravages of Hurricane Matthew is approaching 300 and expected to rise," Skerrit said in an address to the nation.

H added :"I do not wish to delay Dominica's response to this tragedy. I feel that as a grateful people, we have a duty to respond, without request!!

"My thinking at this time, is rather than appeal to individuals and households across the nation – many of whom we know are themselves not in a position to give, again because of their own losses from Tropical Storm Erika – I believe that on this occasion we should mobilize among the business community.

"I would like for the management of businesses, employing 10 or more persons, to spearhead a Hurricane Matthew Relief and Recovery exercise within their individual establishments.

"Contributions can be made in cash or relief supplies, and efforts should be coordinated with the Department of Emergency Management, Red Cross and Lions Clubs of Dominica.

"So the formula I recommend is that individual management teams meet soonest, determine the nature of assistance they can and will give and communicate this to the Department of Emergency Management or other known and established charitable relief agencies.

"I would like for us as a nation, to give ourselves one week from today, to despatch supplies to these hurricane ravaged countries.

"So it's primarily a private sector response we are seeking to garner, in the wake of this disaster across the region. Government will assist with the coordination and underwriting of the shipment of supplies to intended destinations".

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned Friday that the passage of Hurricane Matthew has resulted in severe damage in southern parts of Haiti, especially in the departments of Grande Anse and South.

"The government of Haiti estimates that at least 350,000 are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance. It is expected that number may rise as more assessments are carried out," OCHA said in a statement.

"The authorities report that more than 1,800 homes have been flooded, hundreds more damaged or destroyed, and more than 15,600 people have been evacuated in Haiti," it added.

Matthew, the strongest hurricane in recent years, has flooded towns, downed power lines and cut people off as it swept through the small Caribbean nation with wind speeds reaching up to 230 km/h.