Personal blog of Derek and Margaret, working in Dominica, W.I. founders of Ozone Zone – an Independent Canadian book publisher specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions, and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Posts tagged ‘travel’

The Deed Is Done

Our home after rebuilding. Acid stains visible on walls and floor.

Funny to remember we expected to have a slower life in Dominica, being tired with the speed and pressure of things in Canada. Here actually our life goes faster in many aspects! Well, all together it is more harmonious and peaceful – but so much things happen to us, we are badly short of time.

Anyway – the deed is done! Our house destroyed to the ground by hurricane is up, and we are in it already! About two years to the date – the process was slow, plagued by builder mistakes, and slowed further by various improvements to the structure.
Now we work overtime on decor, various fixes, and on landscape. Margaret is busy planting hundreds of plants she propagated in last years in anticipation of this moment. So, the place starts to look like our home, and we are quite happy with it.

Margaret applying acid stain

The concrete acid stain we used extensively on floors and walls added to unusual and warm look. It was great decision to go for it. We are totally relying on rain water, and it proves a reliable and comfortable solution, specially with the efficient solar water heater recently installed on our roof. The concrete roof itself is covered outside with special white sealer which also acts as sun heat barrier, and even on hottest days our home is cool inside.

Victoria Falls, Dominica

We are so focused on home work that we don’t feel like going anywhere, even for quick shopping. But we have to, as we have plenty of other work. Past months saw me working for a large nature film company (can’t talk about it until project is finished – so stay tuned to learn more about this later on!), filming series of short flicks for our friends at JustGoDominica.com and other such tasks. This work sent me to beautiful places such as Victoria and Middleham Falls, Wavine Cyrique, and I am soon to go other places.

Wavine Cyrique, an unique waterfall ending on a beach.

In the meantime we keep photographing and filming various real estate properties and hotels here, occasionally shooting on other Caribbean islands. Latest one a fine boutique resort in Grenada – was really fun to visit. Another trips (Barbados and Grenada) are on the plate.

Photo from my recent job, photographing Fort Young Hotel in Dominica, after extensive renovations.

We will try to keep you posted, although it is not always possible as finding a free moment is tricky these days. But we want to share with you more news and stories, so please stay tuned for more.
Until next time, cheers! And if you like this post, share it and subscribe!

Derek

PS
All photos by Derek Galon, please respect copyright.

Advertisements

Revisiting Papillote Gardens in Dominica

While life keeps us extremely busy with rebuilding our home after the hurricane Maria (we hope it will finish in about 2 months! Hurray!), we try to work on photography and video as much as we can. And there is lots of work to be done. Just recently our XL sized prints were placed on walls of S-Mart supermarket, adding a flavour of local nature to the store.

our prints on walls of S-Mart

 

Mounting my huge print inside Dominica International Airport

Soon after -in collaboration with #EliteEvents –  International Airport in Dominica had been decorated with even bigger size prints. We are working on a series of wall-decor nature prints available in several retail locations, and – same as these above projects – we do it in collaboration with the best printers in Dominica – Campbells.

Then, I had a creative photo-video session with a professional model and a friend – Nicole Morson. We worked together before. This time it was a horse-riding theme, courtesy of fantastic Brandy Manor Riding Center near Portsmouth.

I am now preparing for a short trip to Grenada, to do photography and video for promotion of a new luxury boutique resort – I should have more about it soon.

So, as you see – there is quite a b it of work we are tackling on top of our everyday lives.

Nicole Morson during our photo session

 

But during all these activities we also revisited the Papillote Gardens in Trafalgar – one of our most favourite Caribbean gardens. It is always  a pleasure to meet Anne, garden’s creator. She helped me filming several agouti feeding before sunset, and we were shown all recent changes and improvements.

During these visits we did what we always try to do – filmed and photographed, and Margaret had a short interview with Anne. The result is now available for you to see – a short video presenting Papillote Gardens. Have a look. We hope you will enjoy!

 

So, that is all for now, we will be in touch soon.

Don’t forget to like and share the post if you enjoyed it. All the best!
Derek and Margaret

Experience the Island Reborn – video

In our previous post We shared our experience from producing a short movie for #DominicaFilmChallenge – a clip that won one of their awards and enjoyed 160,000 views in just one month. We also mentioned then that we have another video ready – and now we are happy to share it to you.

As we in Dominica just remembered 1st anniversary of hurricane Maria, here is our little contribution to it. It basically is similar to the video which was awarded at Dominica Film Challenge 2018, but with more nature footage. I hope you will enjoy – and hopefully visit Dominica soon as it looks better and better. Enjoy the flick!
Until next time, cheers
Derek and Margaret

Dominica Film Challenge

The last three months saw us crossing our island of Dominica back and forth, filming some amazing places. Now that all the work is already done we can sit down and tell you about it.

Margaret starting our drone in Scotts Head

For the last few years Dominica Tourism Authority (DDA) organizes Dominica Film Challenge to promote the island as a nature destination. So far it were teams of avid travellers from abroad who got invited to participate. But this year for the first time the concept changed, and only local Dominica filmmakers were invited to apply.

Nahjie securing our way in canyon

We offered ourselves to participate and were among the six teams selected to create a short movie on a given theme. Our theme was “hiking”, but we decided that we should expand over this theme, taking advantage of being both local and also foreign. I mean, yes – we live here for five years and know Dominica for much longer. But we also spent half of our life in Europe, then many years in Canada – travelling a lot – including various off-the-usual-path places, also in the Caribbean. That gives us a different perspective. We thought we could see what visitors may find most thrilling in Dominica, but also how the post-hurricane recovery and all the changes it caused may create an added attraction for them.

Margaret in the canyon

That gave Margaret a nice start to write her script, beginning with a short introduction of Dominica as a beautiful Nature Island, then reminding of last year’s hurricane and then going on a trip to re-discover Dominica and see the changes. We had some nice pre-hurricane footage and also documented Dominica soon after it. So, now we recorded recovering nature and visited some amazing locations, also filming short interviews with tourist guides.

Trafalgar Falls 6 months after hurricane

The trip we both remember as the most unusual was the canyoning with our friend and a fantastic guide from ExtremeDominica.com, Nahjie Laflouf, and his climbing partner, Junior. They brought us to a beautiful rock formation at the bottom of a canyon. Beautiful and amazing place to film. However, dragging the equipment through a rough path often changing to a vigorous stream, then through high river waters was not exactly easy for us, and without their help it simply would not happen! But the reward for this hike was amazing, and the footage shows it well.

on hiking trail over Freshwater Lake

Our favoutite locations such as Freshwater Lake or Trafalgar Falls were surely nice to revisit, but I also filmed in the bush, taking close-up shots of recovering nature and re-growing forest. The last on our list was a boat trip through the Indian River with “Fire”, a great guide we know for years. We found Indian River changed but really beautiful – as “Fire” said – we could see “a different kind of beauty” around us. We saw the nature bouncing back, a heart-warming assurance that soon it will regain its old glory.

Derek on boat with “Fire”

Being on boat with “Fire” is always great. Whenever we had visiting friends we made sure they go with him exploring Indian River nature reserve. But this time – although this is how he makes a living – when “Fire” heard we make a film to promote Dominica – he refused any payment for the trip. What a guy! Respect, man!

With all material in hand we spent quite a time editing it and crafting as a super-short movie.

We actually decided that requested length of 3 minutes did not have proper chance to tell our story the way we wanted – so we delivered… TWO movies! One is officially entered to the Dominica Film Challenge, and another one is a bonus. Two-for-one, well – you know – like a pizza. This version extended by two extra minutes shows more of nature recovery process which we find fascinating.

What really adds to our video is the voice-over. We were in luck to “discover” a great talent in the person of Kevin Francis who recorded Margaret’s narration in a single take, bringing out every flavour of this short text. Combined with fantastic music by our Polish friend, a guitarist Andrzej Chochol, it added a really immersive sound layer.

Indian River nature reserve

All work is done and delivered, now progressively launched by Discover Dominica along five other videos.

We surely hope you will this short film. We had a blast doing it, and thanks to it we visited places we did not see before. So, all is well. Now, click the link, have a look, and “like” and “share” the clip if you find it nice. Your clicks will help selecting the winning video!
Please use headphones if watching on a tablet or small laptop.
Dominica – Hike an Island Reborn

Enjoy!
Derek and Margaret

Please remember all photos are copyright Derek Galon and Ozone Zone Books. No usage without written authorization. Thank you.

#DominicaFilmChallenge,  #rediscoverDominica, #DiscoverDominica

 

And So The Dust Settles – part 4 of our Hurricane Maria memories

Trees start to have green leaves again – the same tree as on first hurricane post. compare them!

It is now two and half months after the hurricane. Sometimes it feels like all that was just a bad dream. But you don’t need to look long to actually realize you are still in post-hurricane zone. Our road was cleared by an excavator, but it is badly broken and driving is quite dangerous. Everywhere you drive you pass broken poles, debris and damaged remains of cars mixed with piles of mud. The green is back, but it mostly is just the morning glory taking over every empty space created by fallen trees. Yes, nature heals quickly, but the landscape will stay different for a long time, before it gets back to previous harmonious balance. Also wildlife will recover, but for now you can spot hungry parrots flying over villages they would never visit before. They, same as hummingbirds, other birds and animals are hungry, misplaced and desperate to find some sort of food. Even our dogs are still under visible stress, barking at night and anxious during the day.

trees on a starry night – stumps get their first leaves again.

Some say that around 20,000 people left the island. Such number would make about a quarter of the whole population, and the long term economic impact of such exodus is yet to be seen. One thing is clear – this all will change our island for years to come.

one of many dumping places for damaged roofing materials

We all feel things slowly get back to normal – but is it really so, or we just get used to this situation that we accept it as the “new normal”? Truth is probably somewhere between.

As for our situation, we notice that even simple tasks take longer and require more energy. Dealing with insurance, driving, baking our bread – it is now more effort than before. Yes, we do have a small generator, but it only runs our fridge and couple of small lamps, so all work needs to be finished before darkness – making our days shorter. Yes, we just restored a basic line of running water to the kitchen, but the kitchen itself is wrecked and we do most food preparations outdoors.

our rented house used to be totally covered by green. now it slowly gets the green cover once again

Margaret and an uprooted bamboo

Soon it will be time to decide about rebuilding of our new, shattered home. But this has too its new challenges – material shortages, enormous delays at the port and damaged roads will make the process much more tricky than before. We don’t complain – merely observe. Many others had it much worse than us, and now together with a friend, a BBC cameraman, we are recording interviews about the hurricane experiences. Some stories we hear are so shocking that it is even hard to listen – yet people say their experience in simple words, like stating simple facts about life – and sometimes death.

Damaged piano – another victim of hurricane Maria

Once again we realize that the hurricane itself – while really scary – was just the beginning. At least for us, it is the long months of years ahead which prove to be the real challenge. With no regular power and no internet we can npt do our normal work – editing photography and video, writing, sending files to clients, and so on. We are professionally crippled, and can only rely on generosity of management in Fort Young Hotel, which – despite being seriously damaged and hosting only a few teams of various international aid groups – but otherwise closed for business until restored – allows us and other local professionals to leech their wi-fi internet – our only and rare moments of contact with the rest of the world…

Hurricane brought also some beauty – a picturesque ship wreck near Portsmouth

So, the dust finally starts to settle and more and more people get grip of their situation. Some decide to stay, many decide to go abroad, some businesses opening but many to be never seen again – you can feel we are at the cross roads. Hopefully there will be a visible recovery, but now it is all in the air. It will be fascinating to watch and participate in rebuilding this tiny island. But it will be difficult and long process. We quite understand those who already left Dominica, and hope we will not have to. We are ready for the next challenge…

Despite intense cleanup, you still can see many scenes like this…

Please subscribe to see more photos and read our next posts.
Thank you!
Margaret Gajek
www.ozonezonebooks.com
Derek Galon
www.ArtPhotographyServices.com

If you wish to help us in this difficult situation, you can do so by using link
www.paypal.me/DerekGalon
Thank you.

Please respect copyright of this story and photos. Contact us if you need to reuse this material.

Tags:  #hurricanemaria  #hurricane #maria #tropicalstorms #dominicastrong #dominica

Still Stranded – Hurricane Maria notes – part 3

Dutch Marines coming

In roofless kitchen every cupboard, every mug and plate is covered with dirt and shredded leaves. I am surprised to find that our tightly closed spice jars are half-full of water pumped in under enormous pressure.

It is hard to believe two weeks already passed since the hurricane Maria. We are still spending lots of time sorting our things drenched in muddy water. It takes hours to pull them out, dry them in the sun, clothing spread on branches of our broken mango tree. In the roofless kitchen every cupboard, every mug and plate is covered with dirt and shredded leaves. I am surprised to find that our tightly closed spice jars are half-full of water pumped in under enormous pressure. Nothing stayed dry.

Soaked, messed boxes of stuff ready for our moving – now ready for garbage bin.

destroyed chapel at Retreat House

I am opening soaked boxes only recently packed to move to our new home – now totally destroyed by hurricane. In a dry weather we burn wet packaging, discoloured moldy clothes, destroyed furniture. Our neighbours, the Retreat House, kindly offered us a dry room to store the few things we managed to salvage. We are at the retreat house unloading boxes when we hear loud engines of approaching helicopter – a large Dutch military craft. Two uniformed figures descend on a steel line. They came from St Maarten hit by hurricane Irma and can compare. Dominica was hit much stronger, they say. They are looking for a Dutch couple living nearby to check if they are OK. They left only to come back soon with food for all of us – cans of beans, juice and rice. We laugh saying it will make the most expensive dinner in our lives.

How this tiny stream could turn to the nasty river? All these rocks were brought by water, damaging all homes around…

We are tired of experiencing a waterfall in our living room with every rain, so we decide to call village rastas for help making a temporary roof cover. We hear there is one store in town selling metal galvanized sheets for roofing. We can’t possible go there – our road is still blocked. We decide to find all our old pieces of galvanage and patch them together.

Typical scene of destruction

Finding them is not easy – some are blown away as far as the bottom of the ravine. Dragging them through bushes is a daunting task. We gather wooden rafters and metal sheets scattered around the house and go searching. I found a good sheet of galvanage, but it is stuck on a tree. We are out of luck for this one. After two days of hard work the job is done. To celebrate it, we spend the first night since the hurricane in our own bed. What a luxury, comparing to three weeks spent in our car!

Margaret walks on main street of Soufriere…

Step by step with much effort, our lives slowly improve. We made our pizza oven work again and bake our European bread. We can’t deliver it yet to shops, but we simply share it with neighbours and people in our village. An old friend of ours shipped a new generator as a gift – this will surely make big difference. Another friend invited us to see page www.gofundme.com and do search for Derek Galon. She organized a donation fund to help us, with friends and total strangers chipping in! Some other friends sent us their individual donations. Each such thing feels like a miracle. Gestures like that not only help rebuild our lives, but also show us much needed support. We are full of gratitude and appreciation. And we feel even more motivated not to fail.

While path to Emerald Pool is now cleared, the waterfall looks like set in middle of forest clear-cut

Soon we will be able to drive again – a hired excavator is clearing the road. We are invited to a bbq chicken party at village’s roofless bar. Everybody share their hurricane stories. There is a strong sense of togetherness which makes it easier to face days ahead.

 

 Please subscribe to see more photos and read next part soon.
Thank you!
Margaret Gajek
www.ozonezonebooks.com
Derek Galon
www.ArtPhotographyServices.com

If you wish to help us in this difficult situation, you can do so by using link
www.paypal.me/DerekGalon
Thank you.

Please respect copyright of this story and photos. Contact us if you need to reuse this material.

Tags:  #hurricanemaria  #hurricane #maria #tropicalstorms #dominicastrong #dominica

 

Center of Roseau

what remained of our bedroom and new home. most belongings were later stolen

In the Eye of Cyclone – Our Encounter With Hurricane Maria

We wanted to post things many times, always too busy to do it. But now, hit by the hurricane – we just have to share with you this story. And – after 5 weeks since that, we just got an internet connection to use for a few moments –  so, here it is…

There are as many stories about Hurricane Maria as many people lived through this monstrous experience. While ours is not the most terrible ordeal, for we survived uninjured, we want to share our memories with you. This is my humble addition to all told and untold stories – Margaret’s and me being in cyclone’s eye in Dominica. This short story is dedicated to all directly hit by Caribbean hurricanes of 2017.

IMG-20171020-WA0000

Path of Maria – born to kill. She turned from her path just to go through whole length of Dominica with maximum impact. The lower red point is close to where our both houses were.

Day 0 – Monday (18th of September 2017)
When the shockingly nasty hurricane Irma chopped through Caribbean islands some 10 days before, it went very close to Dominica but didn’t really hit it. We all on our small island breathed easier. Perhaps too easy. A new tropical storm announced by media supposed to be not so bad, and again not to go over Dominica. Lots of us didn’t pay attention to it, thinking that after Irma the worst is over. Well, not exactly. It wasn’t. Reports eventually changed, but until last moment we were told that while Tropical Storm Maria may become a hurricane by time of crossing through Leeward Islands, it should be a small one and pass off the Dominica coast, somewhere on the sea closer to Guadelupe. We should just get some rain and a bit of wind. Terrible misjudgments by meteo services made us all just mildly worried. Somehow it reminded me of misinformation about the terrible storm Erika which damaged our island some two years before. Then too we were told the path of the storm should be east of Dominica, not affecting us directly. It was just at the last hour before it devastated our little country that instead of promised safe passage, Erica showed on meteo maps hitting us directly. Way too late to do anything.

morning-after-hurricane---view-from-our-house

morning after hurricane. Shocking landscape near our home.

So it was this time. Just hours before expected passage, on Sunday evening reports started to be a little more worrying – yes, Maria will be a hurricane soon and may intensify a bit. Not on direct conflict path with Dominica, but a bit stronger than expected. We planned to do some last minute shopping on Monday morning, also delivering our usual load of fine breads to food stores. But on Monday morning tone of alerts changed drastically. The Hurricane intensifies and may be a category 2 by the time of its closest encounter with Dominica. People were advised NOT to go shopping, businesses not to open, and to prepare for possible heavy winds. All shops, offices and work places closed, but we still were shown by online weather sites that the path of Maria will pass in some distance to us from the east.

our-old--Plantation-House

the home we rented – two days after hurricane. You can see our white subaru – which we used as bedroom for weeks to come.

Only one site showed a disturbing image of Maria passing through center of Dominica. Should the http://www.windy.com be right, or they were mistaken, since everybody else predicted a different path? We were to learn the truth very soon.

Together with Margaret we experienced the Storm Erika, and also a terrible winter storm in Canada some 10 years ago. That one had wind speeds between 150 and 180 km/h flattening many trees and inflicting serious damage. That helped us recognizing wind speeds, and when in late afternoon things got pretty nasty, we could say clearly that we already have winds worthy a strong Tropical storm. Believing that the Maria will pass away from us, we expected these winds to stay with us until late night and then ease up. But they got stronger and stronger.

cutting-our-way-out

cutting our path to freedom – Margaret’s turn to use chainsaw.

The old plantation house constructed solely of wood – the place we rent – did withstand previous hurricane David some 40 years ago, so we hoped it will cope with this one too. Power went out around 6pm, so we had no chance of checking any more storm details. It was easy to hear through closed shutters that wind was already stronger than we remembered from Canada (around 150-180km/h or 80-90 miles/h), and intensifying. By 8pm it became just unbearable. We had to fight with window shutters which were constantly bursting open, pushed by unbelievably strong winds. Every moment of an opened shutter meant heavy amounts of water sprayed inside like by a mega power-washer. The concoction of water mixed with soil, debris and finely shredded leaves and greenery.

We heard trees falling, stuff flying around the house and crashing with heavy bangs, roof slowly giving up to the intense power of wind. We were sure it is as bad as it gets. At one point doors to bedroom rapidly opened, pushed by heavy wind coming through opened bedroom shutters. I rushed to close them, and to my shock I saw in light of my flashlight branches of a big tree slowly moving through opened window and spreading on our bed. In desperation I grabbed the tree trying to push it away, but quickly understood that my efforts are futile. The tree was there to stay. But then suddenly wind gust changed and pulled the tree outside, giving me a moment to close the shutters once again. Scared and exhausted, we were standing in the middle of the house, ready for yet another dramatic intervention. Little did we know that what we experienced was just a gentle flavour of things to come.

typical-scene-of-destruction

Typical scene of destruction

Suddenly at 9pm mad winds stopped like cut with a blade. First moment of it was amazing – total silence. Perfect stillness of the air. You could smoke a cigar and watch your puffs go up in perfect order. But then came realization that this silence can mean only one thing – we are in the eye of cyclone! Contrary to most predictions, hurricane went just above our heads. We knew we had only minutes to check and fix whatever we can before the fun starts again.

But when it started some 15 minutes later, very quickly it became obvious that real problems are starting just now. Wind came from another direction, from more exposed side – the Caribbean sea. Blows to the house were so strong that it shake and made noises like a crashing sail ship hitting a reef in heavy storm. Huge bang announced a direct hit by a large tree growing next to the house. Roof broke allowing cascades of water in. We had no way of intervening and had to retreat to another part of the house. However, that started a wild interaction of wind inside and outside, with shutters ripped out of their hinges, roof being pulled out with terrifying noise of ripped metal, and water mixed with debris and shredded leaves ravishing freely inside the house. We both experienced that rare sensation when pressure changes so strongly and quickly, pushing your ear drums in very unpleasant way. Did you ever drive a car at about 180 km/h and rapidly open your window? Well, that kind of thing, only much stronger.

To make it more memorable, through all the rain, wind, and banging of crashing things, we constantly heard outside a very distinct and unusual sound – like huge ship engines running at full blast in far distance. A constant deep roar of passing hurricane.

Retreat-House

Damage of Retreat House

The wind intensified further and kitchen shutters flew away ripped from their hinges. We had to retreat to another part of our home. Where would it be safest? Bathroom? No, we decided for a storage room and run there with our dog, closing door tightly. But it was just a few moments before Margaret shouted – “look at the ceiling! My God!”. Indeed – we could see in dim light of our flashlight that roof was pulled up by the wind several inches, then let go, and then again going up – only higher. Sound of breaking wood did not make us calmer, and we decided we need to run from that place before roof takes off.

A glimpse at the bathroom confirmed our decision not to go there – there was practically not much left of it! With our options down to only our bedroom still holding on, we went there and tried to secure shutters, knowing this is our last place to hide. The roof above us started to break, allowing water to come. Margaret made a quick and brilliant decision. Closets! Our bedroom has two built in tiny wardrobe closets, each about good for one standing person. We quickly pulled our clothes out and went inside, each of us in separate closet. Dog went between Margaret’s legs totally silent, quiet, and scared.

Last two hours we spent in these two closets, listening to the destruction around us and praying that closets will survive.

on-road-to-Roseau

Street near waterfront

Do you remember a scene from Jurassic Park, when a guy tries to hide from a T- rex, and runs from room to room, only to see the beast systematically tearing walls apart to get him? It was quite similar to what we felt. A monster, perhaps King Kong or Gozilla ravishing the house to get us. But at last – after midnight winds eased up a bit. Not much, but enough to notice the worst is over. It is funny how quickly you can adopt. We came out of our closets and decided to have a look around the house. Winds which normally would be still terrifying, but just a bit less than these we experienced an hour ago did not matter so much any more.

We just knew things are getting calmer, and whatever did not break already will probably be ok. So, off we went for house inspection. Constant banging in the attic – several broken shutters and parts of roof torn away and allowing tonnes of water inside the upper floor, drowning our furniture and stuff just ready to move to our new home. Not good. Main floor – rain comes through the ceiling. But it is not just rain – it is the flood upstairs finding its way down through gaps in wooden floor. All furniture in living room wet and messed up. TV? Sound system? Well, you know – messed up to, like everything else.

We noticed that old wooden beams holding the ceiling are bowing in under heavy flood waters upstairs. Not only the rain in living room was not nice, but this looked like the attic may simply collapse, sending down water and all furniture and boxes stored there. That would bury our things and finish whatever remained from the house. A quick decision – chainsaw. We looked where the most of pouring water comes down, and cut an opening in wooden floor of main floor for water to run through. Then, an additional small cut in flooded attic – to let the water go down through that same location. We had instantly a waterfall in bedroom, with buckets of water coming down through the hole – and disappearing in the matching cut in main floor. At least temporarily – we saved the attic from collapse and reduced the flood of our earthly possessions.

remainings-of-known-hotel

remains of a known hotel

Further inspection was very brief – nothing left of bathroom. Not much left of kitchen. Pantry without roof and all cupboards forced open, with all things inside soaked with mix of water, mud, and shredded leaves. Some broken windows in office, terrible mess and flood in dining room where roof was hit by falling tree. Unfortunately it was where we stored most of our freshly imported bread flour. Most of the supply gone. We were simply too tired to bother with it. We went to the bedroom and fell asleep on wet bed until late morning.

whats-left-of-kitchen-in-our-new-home

what’s left of our newly built home. in the kitchen area.

Day 1 – Tuesday
We woke up early, to the sound of water dripping in our bedroom and rest of the house. It was still very windy. Quickly dressed in some wet clothes, off we went to see the world outside. The damage exceeded our expectations and came as a shock to both of us. Margaret cried a little – not for our situation, but for the sad state of our island. The land around us was almost bare – broken trees everywhere with some stronger trees either completely uprooted, or having most limbs cracked off, pieces from our roof and roofs of some other houses mixed on the ground. Plenty of unrecognizable wet stuff on the ground. Smaller plants gone, most bushes stripped off all greenery, palms broken or with tops twisted off.

The brown-grey tone dominated all landscape, with green colour almost non- existent. Rain still falling, but even through its sound we distinctly heard the noise of newly formed rivers in ravines near us. With all greenery gone it was easy to see land slides. More land slides than intact soil. It was easy to see that what we experienced with tropical storm Erika two years was just a child’s play. Proportions of Erika damage times ten seemed like a correct estimate. Our road to Retreat House completely disappeared under fallen jungle. Several meters high jigsaw puzzle of broken branches, palms and trees. We could see the Retreat House totally smashed, with roof and some walls gone. A total disaster. Other houses visible on next hill looked similarly destroyed.

Well, our own house was also smashed. Garage and storage shed simply disappeared, water system in rubble. A big tree broke our roof, and other half of roof totally gone. Everything around scattered in one big mess.

one-of-many

Things seem to get upside down

Looking at the extreme extent of this disaster, with no radio or phone signal and unable to get any news, we quickly realized that perhaps the night of Hurricane was easy comparing with challenges waiting for us in next days, weeks, and months… We felt like Robinson Crusoe left alone on an empty island, trying to think how to organize things.
And then came days of desperate chainsawing our way out, fixing and drying damaged belongings, sorting salvaged food, learning about misfortunes of neighbours, and so on. Days of hard work and nights spent in our car which miraculously survived. A day when we went to see how is our newly built dream home we supposed to move into in the week following hurricane – only to discover that – despite it being built of concrete and super strong cement fiber elements – it was completely wiped out, attacked by hurricane with unprecedented fury and power. Days of pain and moments of happiness.
The spirit of sharing and mutual support, but also acts of looting. But – as they say – it is another story…
====
It was only some two weeks later – when Dutch marines arriving in helicopter to give us a bag of rice – that our thoughts were confirmed. It was indeed a monster hurricane – they said. It should be category 7, only there is no such thing on official charts. Winds up to 220 miles per hour (410 km/h). And the eye went through the whole length of Dominica. As they also helped on St Martin which has been the iconic disaster of hurricane Irma, they also said we had it much worse than that. How comforting to
know 😉  We also heard about many deaths and horror stories in other parts of Dominica, learning that we were indeed among the lucky ones. With that come realization that – if we moved to our new house earlier and faced the hurricane there – we would most probably die there crushed by its power, with nowhere to hide. But all this and much more I plan to write in part two of this story, later on.

PA080037

crossing damaged bridge in Roseau

If you wish to help us personally or Dominica as a whole – please do so as it really is a disaster on unprecedented scale and every little gesture of help makes the difference. We lost almost everything including most of my pro photography equipment and our newly built tiny dream home. And almost everyone here lost a lot and has a terrifying story to tell.

Thank you!
Derek and Margaret
http://www.ArtPhotographyServices.com

My Paypal account for donations:   photosalon@ozonezonebooks.com  (set only for USD and Canadian Dollars) We bake bread and give out to people in our community. Your donations will help this cause too. Every little help counts! Thank you.

hashtags: #hurricanemaria, #hurricane, #caribbean, #extreme weather, #dominica, #maria, #disasters, #global warming, #atlantic, #derek galon
=========
This story and photographs can be freely distributed and published but has to remain intact, including all credits and info. Modifying this contents will violate copyright law.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: