Sharnica Piper, a Dominica native, moved to the nearby island of Nevis in October 2015. She is currently working as part of the Front Desk team at Nisbet Plantation hotel. When relocating to Nevis, she left behind many friends and family in Dominica.
Being away from them during Hurricane Maria was difficult, and Sharnica simply describes her experience during this tragedy as “numbing.”
“The night it came I didn’t know what to think, how to feel or what to say, I was in total shock.”
She was able to speak with her mother at about 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 as the eye-wall of the hurricane was rapidly approaching Dominica. Just 5 minutes later, Sharnica tried calling back and couldn’t get through. Then, she called every family member’s cell or home phone number and was unable to connect with anyone.
The following days, she began receiving news that houses and businesses had been destroyed, and many people were wet, hurt, homeless and without any possessions. Sharnica still had no idea how her loved ones had fared and was desperate for any piece of news.
“I became terrified because I had no idea what was going on with my family or my home. A week went by and I still had no idea if they were safe, I was worried and just wanted to get home any how I could as soon as possible.”
She had seen a few family members in August, but others she hadn’t seen in two years, and this incident made her miss them even more. What became days without communications soon became weeks. Through a mutual connection between Nisbet Plantation and a Dominican from Sharnica’s village, word surfaced that her family was safe. Although she was delighted to receive the good news, days passed before they were able to connect.
“The second to third week after Maria, my mum called, I was overjoyed, she told me everyone was ok…She also said this is the worst she has seen, and she’s seen some horrible ones…”
Sharnica’s mother indicated Dominica couldn’t take another hit like this, or even less than this. While Sharnica’s family home was relatively unscathed, other homes in their neighborhood were completely destroyed. Everyone she left behind in Dominica needed to completely rebuild their lives.
While Sharnica’s family survived, the experience provided a fresh perspective on the importance of family.
“I hope to never get that experience again, especially as I’m away. I try to speak with my family more often than I used to just because of Maria.