Ealing Council employees, many of whom have family and friends living on the island, have started an internal relief appeal for donations and support to help those affected by Hurricane Maria in Dominica.
Staff have been collecting donations of essential survival items including canned food Items, dry foods, bottled water, toiletries, baby formula and food, medical supplies and blankets. The donations collected will be dropped off to the Dominica High Commission Office in Earls Court for distribution.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council, has also been supporting staff and sharing stories of his family ties with the island. “What’s happened is devastating. Until very recently my wife had relatives living on the island, and although they would be prepared for hurricanes, they could never have imagined anything of this scale happening.
“The hurricane ravaged the island with winds of nearly 160mph stripping it of vegetation, power and any means of communication. It must be very upsetting and frustrating for relatives living abroad waiting to hear about their loved ones. The efforts and generosity of our staff, has helped aid workers with supplies and the authorities on the island.
“My daughter, Angellica Bell, will be flying to Dominica later this week for a story she is filming for BBC 1’s The One Show, and will take personal messages from our staff out to the aid workers in a hope of connecting them with their loved ones.”
The island of 71,000 people was the first to bear the brunt of the category 5 hurricane when it struck in mid-September. Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria battered Dominica, aid workers and officials say that much of the island remains without power and water, and cut off from communications.
Officials put the death toll from Hurricane Maria at 27, and more than 50 people remain missing. With the sheer scale of the devastation hampering relief efforts, officials believe the recovery process will take several years and billions of dollars.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) is encouraging anyone that would like to help those affected by the hurricanes to do so via the British Red Cross.
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