ERIKA’S ECHOES: Coulibistrie – reduced to rubble

A scene in Coulibistrie after Erika
A scene in Coulibistrie after Erika

Walking through the streets of Coulibistrie, littered with rubble, rocks and debris, it’s not far-fetched to believe that someone put dynamite to the mountains and just indiscriminately blasted the rocks, because it seemed like it rained rocks in that village.

In fact, they were the remnants of a raging river that had no mercy. The water climbed a 12-foot wall made its way through the village taking everything in its path, including vehicles and homes. What was a babbling brook, approximately ten feet wide, became a body of water several hundred feet in width.

Cars that were moved to the basketball court for safety when the rains began to pour on the morning of Thursday, August 27, 2015 were buried in silt. The Primary School was inhabitable; the water moved everything in its path – fridge, partitions, blackboards, desks, chairs and cupboards to one corner, all piled one on top of the other. The new library donated by the Rotary Club of Roseau was inundated with water, computers destroyed, material salvageable.

Phillip (left) and Charles recall the day Erika struck
Phillip (left) and Charles recall the day Erika struck

Rolson Charles, a resident of the community, said it how he saw it when Erika struck.

“In the morning there was some rain for about four to six hours and then the river just swell and all of a sudden it just burst in all corners,” he recalled. That’s the first time I ever see that. I was thrown on top of a kitchen. I could see houses and a lot of vehicles going down the river into the sea. I had to rescue my girlfriend through a window. Right now we have a lot of homeless people. They lose their houses and everything in the houses.”

His friend, Carrington Phillip, said the events of the morning have left him baffled.

“I just couldn’t understand what was happening in the village because I, myself, I at the back road, up, and my house end up in the middle of the river,” he noted. “When I see I in danger, I’m a brave man but I go on my porch and I start to tremble because first time I see that in my life. I raise Coulibistrie from a little boy and I never thought water would pass where I living and if you had go on the street just next to my porch, you would wash away. There was nobody that would survive that. I just see cars running by my yard going down.”

Carrington had to tie his vehicle to the back of his house and that’s the only reason he has one today. He was one of the lucky ones along with Barbara Phillip, District Development Officer for the Western District.

“I was awakened by my neighbour who asked me to move my vehicle from the side of the road since we were close to the river,” Phillip said. “I moved it to higher ground. Then in a little while they told us that the vehicle was going down into the river so my husband and son went to take care of that. Luckily one vehicle jammed on a wall and then one jammed against the other and another one blocked them from going down.”

Cars in Coulibistrie after Erika
Cars in Coulibistrie after Erika

Approximately 50 vehicles in Coulibistrie were lost to Erika. The community has two garages and all the vehicles that were there got carried away by the river; a bus was washed away and a dumper sits on the sea bed a few feet from the water’s edge. One home travelled several hundred feet and sits on the Bayfront as though it was planted there.

Silt and sand were piled high to the window sills of nearly every home that had a ground floor. Some residents got cuts and bruises and some cuts have been infected as they did not receive medical attention in a timely manner. The Health Centre is directly in the disaster area so it’s not functional but a temporary facility has been set up at the Catholic Presbytery. Their water lines are badly damaged. The police station is being used for relief distribution and as the main point of contact for the community.

Phillip hopes Coulibistrie will return to normal
Phillip hopes Coulibistrie will return to normal

For the people of Coulibistrie, Barbara Phillip said, life will not be the same. Approximately 109 families were affected and only about 20 of these sleep at their homes now. Persons have been relocated to Salisbury, Grand Savanne, Morne Rachette and as far as Canefield. Phillip stated that persons are traumatized and she doesn’t see their life returning to normal, at least not within the next couple of months.

But with the help of her team, Glenroy Toussaint, Kathy Roberts from the Local Government Department, Hector John – Parliamentary Representative, Ericson Robinson – Chairman of the Village Council, the Councilors who assisted, the Police Officers, DOMLEC for working tediously to restore electricity to the area, Kelver Darroux and the people of St. Joseph, Paix Bouche and Portsmouth, among others, Phillip is confident that the baby steps they make today will get them to where they want to be in time.

Parts of a dumper protruding from the sea in Coulibistrie after Erika
Parts of a dumper protruding from the sea in Coulibistrie after Erika

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  1. Committee of National Salvation
    September 9, 2015

    “There may be still someone out there who did that to him. Lest we forget.”

    Why don’t you leave Canada and come and help the police with investigation, so you could find that someone? You are NOT GOD, although you seem to indicate in your many foolish comments that you are THE BEST human being on earth today, and always want to see God punish people

  2. grell
    September 9, 2015

    To my people,BE strong and God is in control,he sent us a message,we need to sit down,get on our knees and pray together,he sent us a very strong message that no man comes before him.

    • genie
      September 9, 2015

      yes he wants us to stop politicking everything lose the colours and work together….starting with the leaders

  3. The Real Facts
    September 8, 2015

    I did not realize that Coulibistrie got it so bad. It is amazing, as I read in a previous article, only three people died in Coulibistrie.
    I cannot but help remembering the 74-year old blind man who was supposedly poisoned and tied to his sofa. He died while being transported to the St. Joseph Health Centre. Is his house still intact or was it washed away?
    There may be still someone out there who did that to him. Lest we forget.

  4. September 8, 2015

    Anyone knows what happen to the one million gallon water dam which was sitting above the village of Coulibistrie? Is it still there? DNO please check with Dowasco?? While you are at it, also find out how many more dams broke and in what areas.

    • Coulibistrie Eye
      September 9, 2015

      Whoever you are, the dam is no more. Take a look at the damage, it is easy to see that this water system was severely compromised. Hence the reason for the village being out of pipe borne water since the morn of the storm.

  5. Dominica massive
    September 8, 2015

    O yes that a beating it was not easy.We have to regroup and come again.My condolences to those u lost loves ones.My sentiments to those who lost everything they worked for.Have courage my people,Life has many obstacles but we must ask God for deliverance and guidance along the way.We will make our minds and hearts work together.

    • The Real Facts
      September 8, 2015

      Oh my! It got a huge beating. Unbelievable! All this damage and by water, streams and rivers overflowing their banks, taking everything in their path! Angry waters. This was something else. It appears to be that God was really angry or was it Mother Nature?

      • Committee of National Salvation
        September 9, 2015

        Who was God angry with? I hope you hypocrisy is not the cause of his anger

  6. Sharon
    September 8, 2015

    So tell me something? Did the river take a life in Coulibistrie or not ? Because I heard that it did.I will not put a name because I am a bit confused that in all that was said about the lost in the village no one mentioned that.

    • Jean Couli
      September 9, 2015

      Yes it took one life and left several others with ONLY their life. Praise God nevertheless, I really have to say it could be worst, despite the looks of things.

  7. September 8, 2015

    We feel your pain some of us thou far away cant get over the distruction done to once a vibrant village. we are stilling with the memories of hurricane David in 1979 and others, therfore we understand your pain. But in all of this God is never asleep and he does not discriminate he will take care of all things. keep the faith and do not loose hope. job went thru as a test of his faith he received more than he bagin for, thats why God is good all the time, all the time God is great. Never forget material things can and will be replaced, but life cannot be re placed. we shall rise again. Our prayers are with all.

  8. TS
    September 8, 2015

    Hold strong my people, you shall overcome.

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