Dominica: Lessons Learned from Tropical Storm Erika - October 2017

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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The lessons learned below are a result of the analysis of main findings and lessons from the impact and response to Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015 in Dominica, and hurricanes tropical storms that impacted locations with similar characteristics to Dominica. The aim of this product is to improve the performance of humanitarian actors responding to Hurricane Maria, assist agencies working in the response, and encourage positive action by decision makers.

Impact of Tropical Storm Erika

Scope and scale on Tropical Storm Erika

Tropical Storm (TS) Erika hit Dominica on 27 August 2015. It resulted in 13 deaths and directly affecting about 15,900 people (about 23% of the national population). Torrential rain triggered massive landslides and flooding. Rivers and streams surged, carrying boulders and debris, destroying villages, homes, roads, bridges, and land. Over 800 households were left homeless. TS Erika caused damages and losses of about USD 483 million, approximately 90% of the country’s GDP.

Key priorities immediately after Tropical Storm Erika

  • Greatest effects were felt in the Transport, Housing and Agriculture Sectors.
  • Per geographic area: Petite Savanne, Pichelin, Good Hope, Bath Estate (Paradise Valley), Dubique, Coulibistrie, San Sauveur, Petite Soufriere and Campbell. The entire villages of Petite Savanne and Dubique were left uninhabitable.

Long Term Effects from Tropical Storm Erika

TS Erika greatly affected Dominica’s economy. Flooding and landslides severely damaged transport infrastructure, tourism, and substantially diminished agricultural production capacity. The main airports maintained limited operations for months. Roads and bridges were destroyed and remained unusable for months. It was not until January 2016 that the water and sewage network was in full capacity.

Vulnerability to Disasters

Dominica is very vulnerable to multiple hazards, like most of its Caribbean neighbours. The country has nine volcanoes and experiences frequent seismic and geothermal activity. Aside from hurricanes and volcanic eruptions, Dominica is prone to earthquakes, landslides, river floods, and heavy seas that cause damage to the transportation network and environmental degradation. Dominica ranks 12th out of 111 in the Composite Vulnerability Index (Commonwealth Library).