HURRICANE MARIA UPDATE
As you probably know from the news, on 18th of Sept. Dominica was hit by a monster hurricane Maria, inflicting mind-boggling damage to the whole island. Since then we remain without power, water supply, with close to 100% of houses severely damaged. UN and neighbouring countries sent military and aid shipments to assist. We, organizers of the Ozone Zone Photo Salon were badly affected too. One of our jurors had her home buried under 9 ft of land slide and with her family narrowly escaped with their lives. However, they had to be air-lifted for medical emergency abroad where they remain for now. Another juror had to fly to UK to setup his son in a British school, and should return soon to start rebuilding his life here. Third juror – which is me, Derek Galon, who writes this message – lost his newly built home, most belongings including part of photo equipment, and with his wife lives in their car. The building used for photography activities and judging – as most others lost its roof and got seriously damaged. This is national disaster on an unprecedented scale. No one expected things to go so terribly bad. We are told that this – one of the strongest hurricanes on record – had winds up to 220 miles/h and additionally had numerous mini-tornadoes whirling close to cyclone’s eye which ravished the whole island. The ever-green island turned grey-brown, with all leaves stripped of vegetation, and most trees broken or fallen. Thousands of land slides demolished roads, water catchments and other infrastructure. Angry sea and river waters flooded towns and villages, pushing mud and debris inside homes. Many lives are lost. The extent of devastation is hard to comprehend, even while seeing it closely all around us. We have no water, no internet and no power. It may take up to a year to restore electricity on our island.
Faced with this tragedy we have no other option but to extend closing date of our salon for several more months until 31st of March 2018. This time is needed to gain access to internet (I write this using connection given to me for a few minutes courtesy of World Health Organization team, which operates in our area helping with emergency tasks). Time is also needed to partially rebuild our lives, clean facilities, and get a better grip on normalizing our lives.
What supposed to be the happy 5th anniversary edition of our salon became perhaps its last edition – at least for a while. We hope you understand our situation and accept the extension of deadline. All entries are sent to our server in USA and are unaffected by this disaster. When we have power and internet we will organize judging, and everything will happen as planned – only with a big delay. Seeing how much recovery is needed, we all here agree that new deadline needs to be extended to end of March 2018, giving us close to half a year to get our lives back a bit. We notified PSA, FIAP, RPS, and other organizations and received their full support.
We are sorry for such extension, which we would not do if we had any other choice. Thank you for your understanding.
If you want to show your support, the best way is to make sure you take part in our salon and share this news with your friends-photographers. Lets use this extension to make it a big event on an unprecedented scale – like this hurricane. Please share this news and help the number of entries speak loudly, showing your solidarity with the small group of photographers and professionals organizing this event. Lets show that world best creative minds and photo community has more power than this senseless destruction.
I will try to keep updating you on this page with progress of our recovery and other details. We don’t have regular internet access and can connect only when walking to town, so replying to individual messages may take a bit of time.
Thank you again for your understanding and support. Regards from Margaret, our chairwoman.
If you wish to see more photos and our story from the hurricane night, please see our blog:
Derek Galon, MA FRPS FOPS, head of jury
Ozone Zone International Photo Salon, Dominica