With the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season less than one month away, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has reiterated his government’s commitment to relocate of residents of Coulibistrie and Campbell.
In 2018, Skerrit, in his capacity as housing minister, announced that 18 acres of land were being acquired at Macoucherie to create a new development for residents of Coulibistrie, one of the villages severely impacted by Tropical Storm Erika in 2015 and Hurricane Maria in 2017.
At the time, he stated that upon completion of the conceptual designs for this new housing development, the government would meet with the residents of Coulibistrie to share the plans with them, solicit their feedback, and incorporate some of the recommendations into the final design.
The Prime Minister also reported that the conceptual drawing for this new housing development is “about eighty per cent complete”.
Member of Parliament for the Mahaut Constituency, Rayburn Blackmoore, has also announced that residents of Campbell will be relocated to warner in 2021.
Following the devastation of Tropical Storm Erika, the village which is prone to landslides and floods was left even more exposed and vulnerable to any natural disaster.
It was also determined that there was very little action that could be taken in the village to mitigate against further erosion of land.
Since then, the government has decided to relocate the residents in phases, targeting the twenty-five most vulnerable families first.
When questioned during a recent Anou Pale programme on the status of the relocation exercise, the prime minister said the plans are being worked on and will be implemented on a phased basis.
“We have been a bit slow in the finalization of the acquisition of the land in Macoucherie so I think the ministry of housing needs to give greater attention to this. However we’re making movements and we will acquire from the Dominica Social Security over 200 acres of land that it has in Warner so that we can develop into housing,” Skerrit stated.
He said that housing development in Warner which is expected to be a “modern community” will not only cater to the residents of Campbell but will provide housing for public and private sector employees as well as people in the diaspora who have expressed interest to the government about such properties.
“The reality is Campbell would have been relocated by now if the folks had agreed to my suggestion in 2007. At that time, I went to Campbell and I said look this place is vulnerable; we have to move you, but you know, like all of us you know, we grow up in a particular community, that’s where we have our livelihoods, our home, you know, to be relocated, it is always a challenge for many people,” the prime minister pointed out.
He said to date, numerous individuals have expressed interest in moving, however, residents in the most vulnerable parts of the community will relocate in the first instance.
“So we committed to this and I believe very soon we will finalize the documentation on this particular housing development in Warner and be in a better position to articulate and to present to the residents in both Campbell and Coulibistrie detailed plans for their relocation,” the prime minister stated.
According to the Colorado State University (CSU), an above-normal number of storms is expected in 2021, making for a very active season overall.
CSU’s initial extended forecast (published April 8, 2021) predicts a total of 17 named storms (average is 12.1) for the year, of which 8 would become hurricanes (average is 6.4). Of the hurricanes that were expected to occur, 4 would turn into major hurricanes (average is 2.7).
Major hurricanes are storms reaching at least Category 3 strength in the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. CSU also predicts an “above-normal” chance of major hurricanes making landfall across the U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean this year.