Former Prime Minister OJ Seraphin at Conference of Donors in Barbados.

By OJ Seraphin—Former PM -Commonwealth of Dominica

I have been asked by all and sundry of whom I am connected to share an inspiration and give a message
of hopeon how the David experience can be a blue print for responding to this now experience of
Maria. I wish to thank the many bloggers who have given me Kudos for the handling of David — it is a
legacy of which I am proud to have been associated .

Whilst I did suffer like all others with losses of homes ,belongings and lifetime of memorabilia ,children
and grandchildren with homeless experiences ,I believe it was appropriate to give space to the current
PM to do his job whilst being very active in St Lucia where I am also resident, having formed the
Dominica St.Lucia humanitarian network to coordinate motivate and seek support for Dominica in this very difficult moment of our history .

Hurricane David was probably the single most destructive Hurricane ever to hit Dominica in recent
history when it visited Dominica on the 29 th August 1979-before Maria!
The hurricane David with a force wind of over 150 miles per hour ….wreaked havoc on the island
destroying homes and the very fabric of the economic life of Dominica .
The lessons learned from that experience is a roadmap for the responses now needed by the
respective Governments in the northern corridor following the passage of Hurricane Irma and Maria .
The total damage of houses, Agriculture and infrastructure led to a very urgent, aggressive
Government response and this may very well be a road map and the agenda for the respective
Governments affected by Irma and Maria.

The call to the world community and to various governments and agencies was loud
relentless and effective. The early visit of the British frigate HMS Fyffes was the facility for the call
with its telecommunication capacity to the world which together with the local ham radio professionals
gave to the world the SOS needed for a very proactive vigorous call for assistance. This is the program
needed by the respective Leaders whose countries are victims: to consistently appeal, using the
international media houses effectively and creating a presence of comfort to their people.

The road ahead will require consistent, sustained, non-ceasing efforts emphasizing the needs to the international
community but should never give the impression that all is well as seen in social media today.
In this regard the response from the French with helicopters and French military, followed by the cargo
military planes of Venezuela as well as the arrival of the Sea Bees, the military group of Engineers of
the US who were granted honorary Dominica Citizenship by my Government, and the British navy was
in response to a very loud and very focused demand for AID and assistance .

Locally the rallying of the Defense Force and the civil defense unit which was formed as a paramilitary
group of young persons under the commander Ronnie Roberts, were very organized, disciplined and
active in various levels of support to the populace including removing patients from the Princess
Margaret Hospital to be sheltered at the National Bank which had empty floors at that time .
The Civil defense Unit was also involved with the moving of dead bodies to the Convent Prep which for
a while was a morgue .

The need for local and Diaspora organizations to accept the responsibility and of taking charge of
responding to the call is what is need in the various islands affected. That effort at restoring
normalcy to Dominica was through major initiatives which continue to remain a mystery to most
citizens amid silence from historians. The trip to the UN at the September sitting where I addressed the UN and made the case for Dominica with one on one contact with leaders in the Corridors, seeking assistance is not particularly
mentioned .

This week’s UN conference is an opportunity for the various leaders affected by the Hurricane Irma to lobby and make their pitches to world leaders and ambassadors. This was done with the Cuban delegation where I Met with Fidel Castro who offered the Cuban Scholarship program .

The north American AID seeking Trip was organized and I was accompanied by a team of very qualified
persons including a personal consultant then former President – NJO Liverpool –Philip Nassief –Colyn
Bully–Judith Paestina. This was possibly the most effective lobbying effort which led to massive aid to
Dominica. That working team of very efficient persons was also able to visit the US state department
where Bilateral support was successfully negotiated with US donor agencies and the US state
department and USAID officials. My direct and very positive relationship with the then Ambassador of
the US based in Barbados –Sally Shelton was very instrumental in making the necessary diplomatic
connections .

Other persons with interest in Dominica was Billionaire now deceased- John Archibald, who hosted the
group in Virginia and did facilitate some of his very eminent senator Connections to support the
cause of Dominica and to introduce the satellite of prominent universities to seek residence as an off
shore centre in Dominica at Springfield. This illustrates a case in point for the present Leaders of the
crisis: to get facilitation from the respective connection which they may have developed through their
respective Embassies and other social and business network .

A focal point of assistance is the OAS where an address by me as PM led to the council of
ambassadors agreeing to direct support mechanisms for Dominica which led to a very large and
varied level of unprecedented aid which included equipment and support for the various sectors in the
country: chain saws, outboard motors, factory shells, sports equipment, fertilizer etc … A personal
relationship with then Secretary General Ophila was also very useful. It is expected that the present
Leaders will have had friends in high places at the OAS and other Agencies to assist in their request for
AID.