The will to push on!
As Martin Luther King Jr once said: “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Two category-5 hurricanes in as many weeks swept across the Caribbean islands. The impact of Hurricane Maria which struck Dominica on Monday, 18 September is unbelievable. It will take a lot of effort from various actors to help the island and its people recover. There are many challenges in this mission, including the logistics.
Following Hurricane Maria, we managed to get on one of the first flights to Dominica. It is impossible to describe the emotions you get when flying over the post-disaster landscape, from seeing all the trees broken and houses with no roofs to when you land on the totally-devastated airport and eventually make your way from the airport to the government building, realizing the complete destruction unleashed by nature on the island. It feels almost like a conflict zone, with helicopters flying over your head all day long, delivering life-saving assistance or evacuating injured people.
When we got to the island, we managed to set up high-quality Internet connectivity within 24 hours! This connection is now serving some 600 humanitarian workers and the number of users increases with each day.
However, the needs are much bigger than this, as the assessments are still being completed. The ETC* team – with Ericsson Response, the Government of Luxembourg and the World Food Programme – will continue to provide connectivity services, as it becomes clearer where the most urgent needs are.
Flying, running, walking, crawling, it does not matter – as long as the work continues and we can provide connectivity to the humanitarian community. Perhaps we cannot make the humanitarian responders fly, but we can enable their communications! And that helps save lives!
So let’s keep moving!
Martin Falebrand, Ericsson Response volunteer, deployed to support WFP, lead of the ETC, in the response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria
* The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) has not been activated in response to the Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean. World Food Programme (WFP), in its capacity as global ETC lead, is supporting the response activities coordinated by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).