A Caribbean Connection
Jasmine Kouly lives on St. Lucia, a neighboring island of Dominica. She is the Training Director for Pineapple Hospitality Services and had been hired by Rosalie Bay Resort for a 4-week training role, scheduled to begin Sept. 30, 2017.
Jasmine hadn’t been to Dominica before and was thrilled to explore the island, witness turtle hatchings and meet the employees she had communicated with remotely. However, a week and a half prior to Jasmine’s start date, the Caribbean’s Nature Island was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
While on St. Lucia
In 2013, St. Lucia was hit by an unexpected tropical storm leaving behind collapsed buildings, flooded homes and lost lives.
Because of this experience, Jasmine knew the devastation Hurricane Maria could bring to the region. Her initial thought was, “The Caribbean cannot handle a Category 5 storm.”
St. Lucia is only about 100 miles away from Dominica and was also in Hurricane Maria’s potential path.
“St. Lucia was spared from most of the winds and rain. But, to be completely honest, we were far from being even adequately prepared if we did receive full impact from the hurricane.”
“It turned out to be even worse than I imagined.”
While St. Lucia was fortunately spared, Dominica was devastated.
After the storm hit, there weren’t any communications. Without updates or photos, Jasmine didn’t know what to expect. Although she anticipated damages, Jasmine hoped she could still begin her new position.
“When I finally started seeing photos and video of the devastation, hearing about the shortages of food and water, learning the state of the roads and airports — I finally understood the extent of the damage, and it broke my heart.”
Meeting Bev & Oscar
After the storm, Bev and Oscar both temporarily relocated to St. Lucia to coordinate relief efforts with IsraAID, a rapid response team grounded in Dominica. While the partners were in St. Lucia, Jasmine had the opportunity to meet them in-person.
Their afternoon together had a wonderful start, and like everyone, Jasmine describes Bev and Oscar as “welcoming people.” However, the meeting took a somber turn as Oscar shared his terrifying experience of fearing his life during and after the storm.
“He also explained how he noticed a few hours before the storm, all the birds were out — chirping loudly, flying in swarms and acting rather erratic… as if they knew what was coming.”
Then, Jasmine discussed her initial training plans with the duo. The overall mood became quite melancholy as they recognized their high hopes for improving the resort’s service had been washed away by Maria.
Jasmine still hopes to visit Dominica and indicates she keeps the people of the island in her thoughts.
“I have high hopes that Dominica will recover from the devastation of the hurricane as Caribbean people are strong, hardworking and resilient. It may take a few years, but I know it will happen.”