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University in Action Last August, in the wake of Tropical Storm Erika, the university made the first move when newly installed Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, contacted the Prime Minister of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, to offer The UWI’s sympathy for the lives lost, extensive damage, and to pledge its support in getting the recovery process underway. Dominica wasted no time in accepting the university’s offer of support. The Vice-Chancellor authorised the dispatch of a UWI Scoping Mission/ Task Force with the purpose of providing immediate technical services that would augment the rapid damage and loss assessment exercise already in train. A Scoping Mission Mobilised Professor Hunte, who is currently Director of the Office of Global Affairs at The UWI, was asked to pull a team together based on the perceived needs of the island after the disaster. The professor teamed up with Dr. Barbara Carby, Director of the Disaster Risk Reduction Centre, and together they handpicked members of the Scoping Mission. The Scoping Mission was funded from the Global Affairs budget. The UWI Scoping Mission to Dominica included staff members with expertise in engineering, water resources, and environmental management. The onthe-ground team was led by Mr. Jeremy Collymore,

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Honorary Research Fellow, Institute of Sustainable Development. Other members of the team included Dr. Richard Clarke, Senior Lecturer, Civil Engineering, and Dr. Adrian Cashman, Director of CERMES (The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies) and a specialist in water resources management. The three-member team toured Dominica from September 6 to 12. To say they were needed, would be an understatement. On August 24, 2015, Tropical Storm Erika, the fifth storm of the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, passed 90 miles to the north of Dominica. Three days later on August 27, the Canefield Airport, near the capital Roseau, recorded 12.64 inches of rain in a twelvehour period leading to severe flooding, landslides, and extensive damage. Twenty persons were confirmed dead. And so in a matter of days, the island that seduced U.S. filmmakers into selecting it as the location for the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, was virtually unrecognisable. Meeting with the Prime Minister But The UWI Scoping Mission was determined to do something about that. Just getting to the island proved to be a logistical challenge though as Dominica’s airports were closed. Team members had to take the more circuitous route of flying to neighbouring islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Lucia and then


UWI Pelican Issue 14