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​Disaster Arborist Response Team – Dominica Diary

Last Updated:  19/10/2017

Here’s a run of what DART have been up to with the second team of arborists now carrying out vital work on the Island and also passing on vital skills.

Thanks to all the Sponsors and Supporters who’ve helped raise awareness and donated to the DART cause so far.

Running supplies into the stadium

30th September

They are currently camped out in the stadium in very challenging conditions, but they are working hard alongside the local authorities and fire department to get roads clear. Then they will look to hospitals and schools. Remember these guys are all volunteers and have given up their time to use their Arb skills where it can really make a difference.

Tree clearing gets underway

2nd October

Working side by side with their Dominica partners, our team have been busy carrying out further tree clearance work around Roseau. They've also been liaising with representatives of the Dominica Government and our own Department for International Development to investigate various options for increasing local clearance capacity with additional equipment and training.

Back in the UK, Team 2 has also been busy preparing to deploy on Friday. With the help of Rescue Global Team 2 will relieve Team 1 in place and continue to support local agencies for a further two weeks.

Showing the utter devastation and the task at hand

4th October

The latest images in from team 1 on the ground show the utter devastation in Dominica, where our volunteers have been continuing their work clearing what they can and working alongside local authorities to help aid reach people some of whom have no clean water, food or power and very little left of their homes.

Team 2 are preparing for departure on Friday and we must say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated and especially to our kit sponsors Stein Products Limited and Makita UK who have been busy sending us masses of equipment.

Also thanks must go to our other supporters Arboricultural Association, Först, Lomond House Finance, Linguassist Ltd. and EOS Contracting for their generous donations.

DART is run by volunteers and every penny donated goes into enabling these deployments.

Meeting the locals

6th October

Our 2nd team of Arborists set off early this morning for a 2 week deployment to Dominica to continue with the tree clearance and assisting in getting vital aid through. Team 1 will be returning over the weekend.

Many thanks to the support given by Airlink who arranged the flights through British Airways to Barbados. The team will then meet up with our partner Rescue Global for further transport to Dominica.

Getting through the clearance

9th October

Following a handover at the airport, Team 2 hit the ground running in Dominica yesterday, with one team working the area around the Botanical Gardens in Roseau and another clearing the road to BellVue and opening up access to an important community water supply.

Meanwhile, Team 1 arrived back in Gatwick for a well earned coffee and cake debrief this morning. The first UK team to arrive on the island, they've spent the last two weeks living and working in challenging conditions alongside partners in the local Fire Department and other agencies to open up road access for the delivery of vital aid. They've been outstanding ambassadors for DART, creating a positive impression across the international relief operation. Last night the Dominican Foreign Minister Francine Baron sent them a message to say, 'We do truly appreciate all that you and your team have been doing.'

Cutting our way through the devastation

10th October

With a larger team on the ground, DART is now starting to look beyond road clearance to address broader infrastructure issues. Schools are scheduled to reopen on Monday 16th and the team are keen to ensure that damaged trees in and around school grounds are made safe before then.

There's considerable interest in the DART concept from local people and Foreign Minister Baron has asked Jon Mackeen to appear on local television to speak about the Charity's work in Dominica.

The team are living out of a couple of small rooms above the Cricket stadium, which is now a busy helicopter landing zone. It's fairly basic, but there's a flushing toilet and the view's great. Our lads have been humbled by the cheerfulness and resilience of many Dominican friends who, after being left without homes just a couple of weeks ago, have told them, 'We have life!'

DART's extended operation in Dominica is only possible thanks to the continued support and generosity of our volunteers, their families and our sponsors Fletcher Steward #Stein, Linguassist, Först, Makita, Arboricultural Association and EOS.

Training local people with donated equipment

12th October

The support our operation in Dominica has received from people and organisations across the Arb Industry has been overwhelming and very much appreciated.

It seems we also have friends in high places. Yesterday Lord Framlingham (former Chair of the Arboricultural Association) posed a parliamentary question in the House of Lords, 'To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the urgent need, in the wake of recent hurricanes, to clear trees, make the maximum use of their timber, and to train local communities in those skills, what plans they have to support on a permanent basis organisations like DART International UK which stand ready to carry out this work.'

Training the local communities

13th October

Training local people to use donated chainsaws and equipment safely is a key element of the service provided by DART and that often involves working with trainees for whom English is a second (or very limited) language. How to explain the technical aspects of chainsaw operation, maintenance and first aid to partners whose first language is Bislama, Filipino or Creole are just some of the challenges we've faced in previous deployments. There will undoubtedly be others in the future.

We are delighted therefore, to announce our latest sponsor Linguassist Ltd. who have pledged their technical language translation service to our disaster relief training programme, along with generous financial support to current and future deployments. Thank you #Linguassist and welcome to the DART family.

Clearing continues

14th October

Getting schools open again is always a high priority following any disaster. Going back to school gives the children something of their normal routine and helps them to process the trauma they've all been subjected to. For the parents and wider community, knowing the kids are safe in school allows them to focus all their energy on the recovery process. Making school grounds safe from fallen and damaged trees is always one of DART's more satisfying tasks.

The weather takes a turn for the wet

16th October

The weather in Dominica has changed from extremely hot to very wet, but despite limitations on their movement (due to the threat of landslides), the team have managed to continue working over the weekend. Alongside some agricultural land clearance work, they've started a 4 day programme of chainsaw and clearance training for 18 members of the Dominican Fire Department, using equipment supplied by the UN and our own Government.

Yesterday's activities included assembly of saws, fuel mixing, starting process, safety features, work positioning, risk assessment, basic cross cutting, tension and compression, snedding, manual handling and retention of chains.

Today, a tropical storm has driven them inside the stadium to cover saw maintenance, chain sharpening, bar dressing and a package of Arborist related first aid, including bleed control, crush and spinal injuries, blunt trauma and respiratory injuries.

On the BBC One Show tonight Angellica Bell will be talking briefly about her time in Dominica as an introduction to a series of reports to be aired next week, featuring some of DART's work on the island over the past.