The First Glimpse of the Devastation on Dominica.
Report from Captain Locky McLean
On the JOHN PAUL DEJORIA
Roseau, Dominica, 1800h, Tuesday September 26th, 2017
MV John Paul de Joria departed Martinique at noon local time hugging the lee of Pelee, the green gilded volcano that forms the island's northern peak. Green mountains rising into the cloud ceiling disappeared behind our stern as we jutted into Dominica Channel at 14.3 knots.
Our mission was simple, our ship full of relief supplies, and beyond our bow, an island and her people were reeling eight days after the Category Five Monster, Maria.
Once the protected lee was lost astern, our hull began rolling under the labour of a lumpy swell and our precious cargo. Potable Water, Tarps, Clothing, Food, Animal Supplies and Hope. A passionate and hard working crew ready to brave the hurricane season in the Caribbean to support an island and its people, cut off from the outside world and essential provisions.
The island we departed only 20 nautical miles further south was so lush, green and full of life, that we were not ready for the desert-dry contrast as Scott's Head appeared in the distance.
As the swell died, we were afforded an eerie and unsettling reality. The Caribbean salt-sprayed mist gave way to an arid, smoke-filled waft, permeating with the smell of desperation.
Yellow grit-blasted tree trunks, devoid of vegetation jutted from Dominica’s hills, revealing their gravelly brown underbellies and stone faces. Houses lay toppled, transposed by mudslides and winds so severe that no glass remained on any window frames. In the distance, Morne Trois Pitons, rising above the mundane fate to which Maria had left Dominica's dwellers, gurgled her sulphur stenched steam clouds from deep underground, oblivious to the eye of fury that had passed overhead.
We anchored the ship just as darkness fell, and the glow of fires lit up the township. Without the electrical flickering of streetlights and television, houses remained dark, street fires burned, and lit the way. Hungry dogs barked as Military Sikorsky helicopters made their final aid drops to remote inland regions of the island, kicking up a final dust cloud before recoiling to their Naval motherships to be laid up for the night.
It is incomprehensible that an island ravaged by a monster sired by water and wind, could end up so dry, barren and parched.
The MV John Paul de Joria, will unload on the main cargo dock in Roseau, before continuing to more remote parts of Dominica, where additional cargo will be unloaded to help those still cut off from main aid corridors.
Captain Paul Watson
Founder of the
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
President of the Board of Directors (USA)