After devastating hurricanes, how is the Caribbean doing? - The Stream
Hi. I'm femi okay and I'm Willie could be dad hurricanes. Irma Jose and Maria are long gone but the paths of destruction they carved through the Caribbean left, indelible marks, on the region and its people, three months after a record-breaking, hurricane, season, first up ended their lives we speak to a few of the thousands, working to pick up the pieces and rebuild. Their homes that's today on the stream we're live on al-jazeera and YouTube. Asus. Colleges student from, Puerto Rico and I'm in the stream. One. After, another, hurricanes, Irma Jose, Maria, battered, the Caribbean causing, widespread devastation, and. A public health crisis, due, to an abundance of stagnant, water although. Many Caribbean, islands say they're now open, for business others. Are struggling to get back on their feet much, of Puerto Rico is still without power Barbuda. Is considered, a ghost town and a famously lush Dominica, has lost a substantial amount, of vegetation have. A listen to what Dominican, Prime Minister Roosevelt's, carrots said in October to, Al Jazeera's, Gabe Elizondo, ira cultures 100%. Destroyed there's no question about this. 100%. There. There, are no fruit. Bearing trees or. Provision. Every. Single tree has been impacted. Fires or, entire, forests, have been. Completely. Washed away and of course Oh 95. Plus percent of homes. Affected. Their homes that will have to be reconstructed, completely. So. With tourist season right around the corner what more can be done to help the Caribbean not only recover but, prepare for next year's inevitable, series of storms, here, with us to discuss on skype and st. John's Antigua, Charles max Fernandez, is the Barbuda and minister of foreign affairs international. Trade and immigration in, Paris. France Vince Henderson, is the Dominican ambassador. To the United States in, the, US Virgin Islands, Julian Bishop is a high school student living in st. Croix and in, the u.s. state of Connecticut, Julio Lopez Verona is the state director at, make the road that's, an organization providing support. Services to Puerto Ricans in the day brah we, also invited, San Juan Mayor Carmen, julene cruz to join us today but she cancelled just before we went on there but gentlemen it is really good to have you Julie. And I'm just, looking at a tweet that you shared on the 10th of December. Just. A couple of days ago today. Nearly. Three months since hurricane, Marie ax I finally. Have power while, I'm very excited, we must still keep in mind that half of the US Virgin Islands still, does not have power no, one should have to live in these conditions so long things, must, change in, fact we exist, the famous hashtag, that went viral as, various. Atlantic, hurricanes were crossing, the Caribbean but all of the focus was on the mainland of the US and nobody, was paying any attention to, the Caribbean iron so you were saying hello people, we're, out here ah so. What is it like.
Three. Months after, these. Devastating. Hurricanes, went by what, is your daily life like well you can see that that hurricane, is still having an impact. Paint. The scene for us well. To. Be clear a. Very. Large amount of things has not improved in the Virgin Islands such as you know only a few days ago I've got power but. You know and like I said it's ridiculous, that people are having to live this reality for so long but no, almost. Sadly um people have become, used to this we've had to live in these conditions so long I've become used to seeing downed power lines and poles on, the sides and through some of the streets to, the point where it's, almost caused car accidents, I'm, used to having a big hole. In a part of my ceiling in my kitchen I'm. You stood there being you know broken trees all on the sides of the road, driving. Past and seeing pieces, of galvanized roofing on the sides of the road and. This is it's really unfortunate this this is something that we have to face every day you. Know just the other day the. Legislature, and the governor we're trying to deal with the issue of getting rid of the. Vegetation. Debris, on that's still around the island that's something that still hasn't been dealt with and, over. In st. John and st. Thomas which got, worse I'm damaged, in some situations, they, have piles. And piles of, trash and debris just lining, up the sides of the roads almost like a barricade. And. It's, really unfortunate because when these things fine they get changed it almost surprises, us because we you. Know we almost aren't noticing that these things are there anymore because we become so accustomed to them, minister. What's a realistic, timeline, for. People. Who are in, Barbuda, to be out to say okay. They're. Mostly on Antigua now because, they, had to be evacuated, but, what is a realistic timeline, so. Much devastation in, such a short period of time watch they realistically, be hoping for. Well. Thank. You first, of all let me say now that we have approximately. By the end of this week about 300, fabulous. Will be back into Bob you. We. Have had to of course the government's and to take the initiative we are not we are not a colony so, we about to do everything ourselves, apart. From the donations that we've gotten and a grant aid that we have we has, been pledged to us but. We have approximately. 300, by the end of this week Bob you and so a move back we've, repaired, at least close. To 30 roofs so, far the island is cleaned up in terms of the roads and the, debris and so on it's also declared safe by the environment, and as departments, we, were able to clean it up and and, so that has made it easy for us we, expected, also to, have a.
Number, Of people moving out Friday, and another say, to, three weeks moving. Out of one of the stadiums completely, that has been used as a shelter they will be moving back, we have ramped, up the work in terms of repair, in the level 1 and level 2 groups, under. Homes, and repairing those homes so, I think it's realistic to say but by the end of the year we will have maybe. About five six hunters, back in Barbuda, the. Electricity. Has been up now for several, weeks we, can't operate all of it because, there's not enough power to, use the. Water has been up, and running we. Have. Presently. It's. Costing us in Antigua, about 50,000, us a day just, for meals we. Have had the, level of our about, shelters. So far has been really good we, have had a visit from the UN Secretary General as you might have known and we, also had a visit as recent as a month ago from Prince Charles, and. Recently, about, a week ago we had a. Arkham, Cuba, summit Raul. Castro was here a number of the Karakum heads were here and some visits were me to the shelter so I think we've done a terrific job in, terms of looking, after the folks in Antigua, and the, aim now is to get as many back to Barbuda as quickly as we can. So. You mentioned that electricity is, not, available. At all times because, of the, power load and meet and needing to, make. Sure that that's spread evenly, this is also the case in Puerto Rico we got this tweet from Angela, she writes morning from Puerto Rico strong. Woman holding it down for sure 82. Days still, no power, she goes on to say life, has changed dramatically. I literally do not keep food at home I only sleep in my home due, to that lack of power for, warm showers food and moral support I can go to my parents house about 10 minutes away but, we have no idea when power will be restored in my area they, won't tell us Julio, when you hear tweets. Like this and messages like this. What. What, do you think how representative. Is Angela's, story with, those who are in Puerto Rico, well. If you're in on my facebook you'll find that most of the people had the same issue, I just. Read someone, one of my friends was not, celebrating. But was pointing. Out that she had been a hundred days without electricity. So. It's it's, become part of the living, of Puerto. Rico you, know I have my partner just got electricity. About two weeks ago and. Electricity comes and goes the, government doesn't really know how much electricity it has because, it's just basing. Its, you. Know its estimates, on generation, but, when they were starting to look at specifically, households. They they thought they would have they, they found about ten percent of households, also had electricity. And this, is mainly, concentrated. And someone if you go to the middle of the island the, situation, is really worse oh and and part, of what's interesting about this is that this is not necessarily, about Maria, like Maria made this worse but.
Over A year ago we have three days of no electricity, because our power grid has not been invested, in by. The government, or by the US government over the over, 50 years oh yeah. For people who haven't, had, that experience of losing power for a significant, amount of time don't explain how people were living in Puerto Rico right now, it's. It's, very weird, because I was there I was there for the hurricane, and I was there for three weeks and. As, the gentleman was was saying it becomes a very, normal way of life it's, a very difficult way of life but it becomes a normal way of life if. Everything, becomes slower I, remember, just having to find. Water from wherever I could find it just, finding, whyever, space had a little bit of electricity so I could plug myself in when. It comes to just you, know basic, movement, and I don't have children I cannot imagine people that have children and, what that means because you know you become very very cognizant. Of what. Is basic, needs and and having. Having, a refrigerator where, you can have, you. Know things that are maintained. And not have to waste money every day on I'm just having to restock your your refrigerator, becomes very important so it becomes normal but it's a very it's. It's a normal, and misery and it's a very sad normal. Ambassador. When you see pictures of Dominica, immediately, after, the hurricane, damage it's hard to believe like. How how, do you come back after that. Kind of devastation, what does the last few months being like for. Well. Yeah. First, of all I want to say thank you very much for keeping us. In, the media keeping, the issue of the impact of hurricanes. In the Caribbean in, front of the world, the, world's attention I can. Tell you the, day after, stepped. Out and immediately. Just couldn't recognize this place because. The trees were stripped bare and Dominica. Well-known, as a nature I love the Caribbean lost, green forest. It. Was heart-wrenching, to, just just wake up and walk, through through, the streets and and fallen trees and and the the, kind of devastation. But, you know the good thing it's.
A Long way to go but it's getting better the. Last time I looked out my window I saw the, trees all green and you. Know we. We started, looking once. Again like the nature Isle because we have seen some. Of the rehabilitation. Of the trees and although, there still a lot. Of parts, that we've lost but, we can see progress, being made and as. I said it's a long way to go but it's, getting better and. I think people online from. What we're seeing say, they are also seeing progress but they think that not, enough is happening, and they think that the blame lies. Maybe outside of the region this is Joan Wilson she tweeted in I've seen numerous politicians. Pundants, celebs repeatedly. Appeal for assistance war say Puerto Rico and provide, stats on recovery, not so for the US Virgin Islands, I've even reached out to my senator, for progress on support for US Virgin Islands no, response. Let's get US, Virgin Islands recovery, trending. To, Julianne, do you feel like, you're, being ignored. Well. I wouldn't, want to put, her Porto Rico on the spot because I know I'm Puerto Rico did get a very large amount of damage well I'm coming. Up to Maria we did notice that um they were mainly covering a lot of news sources, were mainly covering on Puerto Rico because it was like the first major hurricane to hit them even, though what, I thought was significant, was we were hit by a major hurricane like two weeks before um I. Think the situation was still worse with both Puerto, Rico and the Virgin Islands, is that with both Maria, and Irma we, still heard more, coverage, of not. Only the states like the US states that were barely affected, by these storms but we heard more coverage of like other, islands. Or other areas, that might be here we heard more coverage of like the hurricane that might. Might, have hit Ireland or was about to hit Ireland, and. You, know it's something something like that's ridiculous, to me because including, Austin including Puerto Rico there's over three million people, Americans. US, citizens, that got affected by this hard um what I'm and I saw news coverage why, do you think why do you think this this, is because I think this is also, a big take away from what happened this year and in previous years with the Atlantic hurricane season and where, people pay attention and where they don't why, do you think that is. Well. Personally, for me on the first thing I want to point out is that this is probably this, is one of the worst hurricanes to ever sink hit st. Croix and from my recollection this, is the word hurricane, season we've ever had because not only did st. Croix and st. John get buffeted by these storms but st. Croix also took on so much damage that one island couldn't simply, help the other because we were just completely devastated on I, think, part of it is this is a long-standing thing the Virgin Islands is celebrating, their 100th, year under the US this. Year in 2017, and we have been neglected, from the, time that we were brought and abruptly our people were pushed under. US control that's, actually, like one of the reasons I want to be in politics as a career and this is one of the main, reasons why I want to is because I want to make things like this get, changed and get fixed it's actually my senior thesis this year is our status issues because.
Issues Like this result, in on the, US giving virtually, no coverage of us you. Know responding. In a very very late way because even though people are happy that FEMA came down an Army Corps of Engineers came, down and, other community, groups it took weeks before, we got any kind of assistance like that it took me it probably took over a month before I saw on power companies, doing anything or. You, know any serious, changes being made on the island and I think that would never happen I'm in the States we know with Katrina there were some issues like that but that also became very. Big in this. If. I may say I think the difference between ourselves, and, Dominica. And the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico is that, we don't have anybody to look to to come to our aid we. Got to do everything ourselves. So, I think there's a whole different, type of mindset I just. Wanted to say though that I feel, that even. Though we contribute, the least in terms. Of. The. Whole, global, warming aspect, of it we. Tend to suffer the most and one. May argue that, even, the u.s. is now advocating that, global, warming present, in u.s. is not something, that is, recognizable. And the. U.s. is now looking even up to to accept, the mandates, and talk 21, and so on so this is a real serious, issue for those of us that are, not that have no real. Colonial. Power you, look to the pump to our rescue so, these are some of the issues I think that we need to look at and I feel the fact that we, ourselves have, to depend, on all. Means. That we have got much more. Commitment. To go forward and work with it so I think that is what makes it different we you know we can't stand the ground and argue. And flying. And. That. Makes a big. I'm. Back so you go ahead and Julio coming, right after go, ahead yes I agree, with the minister, and we've, grown used to that I mean we have been independent, the case of the annika for, 39 years, we. Have always had to fight our way we got hit in 1979. By Hurricane David the country was totally devastated but.
But One of the wonderful, thing about our Caribbean people and I, can say that even most of the media. Is. That we essentially. Resilient. People we've. Gone through difficult, times and we have ways of you know let me just give you one story just. A few days after we got hit by, Hurricane, Maria I accompanied. The team from France on a helicopter, to, ensure, that we could provide food and water to. One, of the most, vulnerable communities you know in our country there, in, the genus people the kalanoro people and, when. We got there and I'm talking about just, a few days after we got hit I met, a gentleman, and. He said to me you, know what ambassador. Ask. Him whole things he said boy you, know things wrong things, wrong but you know we, just came from repairing. A house, we. Had. We. Just lost the an ambassador, for a moment there Julio what did you want to add we'll come back to the Ambassador yeah, I, just think it's like I, just, think it's a it's interesting because first. Of all I don't feel like the US is doing anything for poor people right now the, US has not invested any money in Puerto Rico at this point and every every, dollar that they're trying to invest in Puerto Rico is coming with some sort of, you. Know some, sort of way in which Porto Rico has to do something whether, it be giving more powers to the Imperial, oh that's. Really in the island or whatever, it be Puerto Rico having to privatize, the schools or or, doing a long. You know list of austerity, measures that are gonna hurt us more a more importantly I think with the Virgin Islands. It's. Also a difference between and. I might be wrong but we have 5.8 Porto Ricans in the US there's. About a million that are in loin Lando so there's a lot of power that we can and might have in Orlando which is giving us a little bit of an advantage, when it comes to to, to, media coverage but when it comes to reality and when it comes to what they're really doing in, Puerto Rico the, Congress. Right now is about to impose, a tax in Porto Rico that would cripple, our economy and take down about 200,000. Jobs so, Congress is not, doing anything for Puerto Rico and what it's doing for Puerto Rico would actually destroy the island more so. I think at the end of the day we, might be in different colonial, statuses, but we are in many ways at the same boat and we need to support each other you. Know who knew it's that you, raise the point about feeling, like the US federal government isn't doing an offer isn't doing anything we're, hearing that from people online as well this is Abigail and Abigail and her family have taken medical supplies personal, supplies solar chargers, pampers. Clothing, and other items to rural communities they're taking things into their own hands, here's what she told the stream, people. In the rural areas have had no access to food. From. FEMA because, FEMA. Is usually stationed in the plaza neither. In the town and people. In the rural areas of those mountain, towns just can't, get there they. Have, no. Access to. Running. Water, they. Have no access to the municipal, power. Most. Of the generators, that are now powering, the. Pumps, that pump up water to these towns I mean to these rural areas are supplied. By foreign. Countries, and. Private. Organizations, such as ours but, Minister, that's not the only example of people taking things into their own hands assist Arlene she, wants, to thank Curtis. Gordon and Clover Hill elementary, schools for supporting, her Island Barbuda and a school supply and book drive you can see the pictures here boxes, are packed wrapped and ready to, go how our residents, are coping by helping each other. Well that's a big plus for us, I even, indicates, of Antigua, where, the bad, babuna, population, had come over to Antigua, the majority, of Antiguans. Took them into their homes so. That was a great great help I mean it's one of the proudest moments for me being an Antiguan in addition. To that after. Hurricane, Maria. Hit Dominica, we now have approximately. 3,000. Dominica. Residing, in Antigua, and that is the good thing about it that we as islands, and Islanders, we all look out to each other and of, course there were some here, as Emily, with family, and friends and that's, something that we're very proud about I mean even before the hurricane struck, a couple days before or, week before Dominica, Dominica.
Was One of the first countries to, offer, aid, to Antigua, and Barbuda then. There was drum isn't returned, to. Her offered, aid to them and that is a thing. We have flights coming in from all of the islands, I mean we worked really together and it shows the fact that I mean stove, salt cooperation, so important, in the Caribbean, worked very well together and is one of the proudest, moments of me being not just an Antiguan but, somebody from the Caribbean, so and I think again. Very. Fortunate, for that ambassador. Yeah I, agree. I mean we are other Caribbean, people we've always come together we, work. Together and I, have to find the people of Antigua and Barbuda for your touring of support we got quite a bit of support from, the, people, but but Minister you, would also add me that part of the 3,000, people are in fact the omnicons or Antiguans and you know that very well because you. In. A very intimate way are, knowledgeable, of that but, but we were happy that we, have seen so many of our people being able to get. Support from our neighbors and and and that's what that's a great lesson I am not sure what is the case in the northern Caribbean but I will see especially, for us in the. Southern in the central Caribbean, we. Have, reached out to each other there, the, government's, not just governments, were the people, and what, you saw in the case of support. To, to the school in Barbuda, is commonplace for us we, receive support from all, throughout, the care and this, didn't, only come from the government we thankful, for, the support that, we got from governments, with especially, security. Services. Because. We're in the last two minutes of this program I I'm sure people will be watching this and also remembering, the. The, track of these. Three. Hurricanes, that which were particularly, devastating I'm going to put them up on the screen because, I'm actually gonna go from that image here. We go I'm just gonna replay. Them for you I'm sorry I hope I don't reach warmer ties you so, this is going back three months and we could get one track I'm. Sorry guess, second. Track and. Then. Track number three okay, bear with me and then come here to my laptop, the Caribbean, is hoping, open. Featured, Caribbean, destinations, when people think about the Caribbean one of the things I think about is, vacations. Holiday, destinations. This is part, of tourism. It's so critical. If. I'm asking, you honestly, to say is your island, opens, the business who do what would you say. Struggling. To figure, it out not Puerto Rico or okay, Judy when it comes to like tourism it would be great to have poor people but we're not ready Judy na are you ready. Yeah. I would say I would say yes, we can bring people here technically and tourism. Is a very important, part of our economy but the, people here aren't they're, not better, they're not you, know they're not in the state they were before but. Iike you, we got that same question on Twitter I asked, did you know the Caribbean is open, posting. To that same advertisement. Jireh says I didn't, know I'd love to go I thought nothing was left or contaminated. Water to drink but, someone else has an answer, this is Jay he says have you ever seen the ocean this shade of blue, this, is why he, goes more, than 70% of the Caribbean was unaffected, by the 2017, hurricane season the biggest way to help the region is by continuing to visit hopefully, I'll be able to show the world that n tega is open for business while, I'm there all right and I love that he's got a top tip here he says check. If the cruise ships are stopping while you plan on visiting they, make sure the level of the port experience, meets a certain standard, so if their cruise ships are going then, that car in Ireland is open, for business thank you very much guests for showing your update on what's happened post the Atlantic hurricane season we will see you online hashtag. A stream, take everybody.