On September 8th, 2017, Tropical Storm Maria made landfall on the Caribbean Island of Dominica. The storm left Dominica without power and with downed trees and flooded homes. Luckily, the hurricane spared Haiti from a direct hit; however, after three days of violent winds and torrential rain that followed Hurricane Irma’s destruction in August, Puerto Rico was completely exposed to another devastating storm that wiped out power lines and cut off communication services for several days.
Tropical Storm Maria’s path of destruction travelled from Puerto Rico to the Bahamas. As a category, the storm was a stronger version of the devastating hurricane that re-emerged in the United States in August, ravaging island after island with winds up to 175 mph.
With renewed threats of strong hurricanes in the near future, Puerto Rico and other islands of the Caribbean should prepare for the direct impact of a hurricane, whether that appears as a category 1 or a representative of higher intensity. The island should also begin preparing for major structural damage to buildings and infrastructure (such as roads, bridges and ports) to better prepare for future storms.
Hurricane Irma’s destructive winds caused an estimated $5.4 billion to Puerto Rico’s economy, which is a large part of the island’s gross domestic product. In addition, Puerto Rico lost approximately $1.3 billion in revenue from agriculture after the storm destroyed the 75% of their crops that need irrigation to grow (which was not possible with waterlogged soil), and also damaged around 40% of their livestock.
Dominica has pledged to become world’s first climate-resilient nation by 2023 and is trying its best to make a difference. The government of Dominica has been proactive in its efforts to make the country climate resilient. It has already started to make changes in the way it operates by shifting to renewable energy sources and reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. Dominica has been able to achieve this status because of its commitment to sustainable development and resilience. The country’s government, business leaders and citizens have all played an important role in this process.