Chantal mauls southern Dominica before taking aim at Hispaniola, Jamaica

Matthias Peltier, Jr.

ROSEAU, Dominica, Wednesday July 10, 2013 - Tropical Storm Chantal left Dominica with a trail of destruction in the southern part of this Windward island on Tuesday before churning out into the Caribbean Sea and setting its sights on Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 

By 5.00 pm (2100 GMT), a tropical storm warning was discontinued after a day of strong gusts left some homes without roofs, forcing occupants to seek shelter from relatives.

After veering 45 miles north of Barbados early Tuesday, Chantal spun through the channel separating Martinique and its southern neighbour St Lucia, with Dominica further north beginning to feel the effects of the minor storm’s rainy and wind-laden cloud bands.

The worst affected was the tiny southern community of Gallion, where fewer than a hundred people live.

Villagers in this part of an island heavily dependent on agriculture were still counting their losses late Tuesday as many crops, particularly bananas, were seriously affected, and it appeared that it would take farmers some time to recover.

There were several reports of landslides and rockfalls but disaster officials confirmed that the south of the island was the worst affected.

The officials were late Tuesday reporting of mopping up operations as roads were being cleared of downed trees. No estimates of the cost of the damage were as yet available. 

The island’s main airport, Melville Hall, on the island’s northeastern coast, remain closed.

There were electrical outages all across the island but crews from the lone power company, Domlec, were busy trying to restore power late into the evening.

Appearing on local radio Tuesday, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit promised government’s full support, telling listeners his Dominica Labour Party (DLP) parliamentarians had permission to spend on recovery efforts without first seeking his approval.

Twice this year, the Dominican leader has toured scenes of damage and destruction by severe weather and promised support, seeking to limit any political fallout from natural disaster in the Eastern Caribbean’s most mountainous island, with general elections due within a year.(CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)