A post-hurricane disaster needs assessment published this past fall by the Government of Dominica points up the significance of Amateur Radio’s role in the relief and recovery effort on the tiny Caribbean island nation in the wake of Hurricane Maria last September. It also calls for expanding the pool of radio amateurs on the island who could help in future disasters. The report, Commonwealth of Dominica Post-Disaster Needs Assessment — Hurricane Maria, September 18, 2017, noted that all telecommunication services on Dominica except for Amateur Radio were disabled from September 19 to 21. Some 30 cellular sites were destroyed or severely damaged, and the fiber-optic backbone was severed in several locations, leading to a nationwide loss of connectivity, the report said. In addition to the private telecommunications networks, “an emergency communications network consisting of Amateur Radio operators is supposed to exist within the purview of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC),” the report pointed out.”
The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment concluded that Hurricane Maria caused nearly $931 million in damage, plus losses of more than $380 million — which, according to the report, amounts to 226% of Dominica’s 2016 gross domestic product (GDP).
“The interruption of telecommunication services had a significant negative human impact as Dominica was almost cut off from the outside world for 3 days. Communities within Dominica were isolated from one another,” said the report, which was published last November 15.