My mind and heart are focused on Dominica tonight


This morning, I knew that Hurricane Maria was headed toward Dominica, the tiny Caribbean island where my daughter lives in sight of the sea.

But I was reading that it was a Category 1, and I knew that my daughter would be with the other Peace Corps personnel in a hotel in the city of Roseau — a place U.S. officials considered safe.

I’d heard that by the time the storm reached Puerto Rico it might be a Category 4, and I took that to mean AFTER Dominica. And I had exchanged Facebook messages with my daughter, and she seemed unworried. This was the third time this month the Peace Corps people had gathered at that hotel ahead of a storm, and to her, it seems to have become something of a routine.

So I was shocked when I got come and learned that it was bearing down on Dominica as a Category 4.

And I realized my mistake: American news is tailored to American audiences. And too few Americans are familiar with the Caribbean, beyond a vague notion that Puerto Rico is there. So when that report said it would be a Category 4 when it reached Puerto Rico, it was assuming I didn’t care about Dominica.

But I do. A lot.

Now, American news media have caught on to the existence of the island, and are reporting such things as ”

“‘Extremely dangerous’ Hurricane Maria heading for Dominica, Puerto Rico”

It’s supposed to hit at about 9 p.m. We’re trying to stay in touch with my daughter, but how long will they have wi-fi? If they lose that, and phone service, we’ll just have to wait. Like this is the 19th century or something.

Anyway, that’s what’s on my mind and in my heart tonight. Prayers will be appreciated.

A Dominica scene.

A Dominica scene.

19 thoughts on “My mind and heart are focused on Dominica tonight

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    It’s a Category 5 now, and has been for the last hour or so.

    It has now made landfall on Dominica.

    We haven’t been able to reach her by Facebook Messenger for hours.

    We tried to call on the phone just now, several times, and we get, “Due to technical difficulties, we are unable to complete your call at this time.”

    We have to wait now…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Over the last couple of hours, there was a series of alarming Facebook updates from Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit:

    Since then, there’s been nothing from him…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yeah. He really needs some social media advice. Not that he’s as bad as Trump, mind you.

        They became the entire story for the few media outlets trying to cover what was happening in Dominica. This was all that was coming out of the island…

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Fifteen minutes ago, there was this from The Guardian (British publications always cover the rest of the Americas better than American ones do):

    Dominica’s DBS radio station had been broadcasting news as the hurricane swirled across the island, reporting damage to the roof of the Princess Margaret hospital in the capital, Roseau.

    Shortly after reporting that something had crashed into the station building, DBS has now gone quiet.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    I Tweeted this a moment ago:

    It’s a life-long frustration of mine: Media in the U.S. hardly cover the world, and almost don’t cover the rest of this hemisphere AT ALL.

    British publications are different. I’m not sure why. The legacy of empire, perhaps. Or maybe people there are simply more interested in the world.

    Meanwhile, Americans are so insular that we elected Donald “America First” Trump…

  5. Brad Warthen

    Good news! Peace Corps (stateside) says all personnel are safe and accounted for, and they’ll try to get a message to Becca. How they know I don’t know. Radio, I guess. Normal communications still completely down.

    We’re enormously relieved, while of course wanting to know more.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers. I’ll share more when I know more…

  6. Bart Rogers

    Really glad to hear your daughter is okay. She has been in my prayers along with everyone in the path of the hurricane. Like Doug said, she is Warthen Strong!!!

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