Six months ago, Hurricane Maria hit Dominica hard. The Category 5 hurricane brought torrential rain and winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour. Nearly the whole island was destroyed.  The damage left behind by the storm was extensive, and the impact is still being felt by the people who live there.

Disasters like this can take a long time to recover from. The storm impacted everyone who lives in Dominica, and leaves lasting effects, like damaged homes, interrupted education, and loss of livelihoods. As the physical damage and debris left behind by Maria is cleaned up and repaired, steps are also being taken to help rebuild a resilient community.

The Canadian Red Cross has been actively supporting Dominica's recovery. Recently, members of the Canadian Red Cross visited Dominica as part of a monitoring trip to see how the Red Cross is doing in meeting the needs of vulnerable people.

One of the ways that the Red Cross helped people was to distribute cash cards. Cash cards are a kind of aid that is empowering, because it allows people to spend the money where they need it most, instead of others assuming what kind of aidthey want. Providing cash assistance helps stimulate the local markets which contributes to the local economy. Philippa Lewis, one of the people who received assistance this way said, “I will use the money wisely myself for my home.”

Lining up for cash card
Individuals line up at the cash card distribution in Scotts Head, Dominica.
Canadian Red Cross at cash distribution
Emma Sturrock and Norah Eggleston meet with Francis Jervier in Scotts Head, Dominica at cash card distribution
Regional support
Regional Surge delegate Joao Alvero Gramajo Borche from Uruguay supports the cash distribution in Scotts Head, Dominica.
Supporting cash distribution
Volunteers of Dominica RC supporting cash card distribution in Scotts Head, Dominica


During the monitoring trip, the Canadian Red Cross team was able to visit two cash distributions. “The dedication and motivation of the volunteers was really exceptional.” Said Emma Sturrock, Manager, Movement Support, Emergencies and Recovery, “The majority of volunteers had been directly affected by the hurricanes, but they all said they wanted to help others who had been impacted. They were really motivated and had great energy and professionalism. ”

Six months after the storm, the monitoring trip determined that cash cards were indeed very helpful to those who were impacted, as they continue to rebuild. The Red Cross continues to support people affected and significant work continues as many are still rebuilding their homes and livelihoods. This operation is halfway completed, with the focus now being on repairing roofs.

This program is possible in part through support from the Government of Canada.