Showing support for island after storm hits

Members of Aylesbury's Dominican community get together items of food and clothing which will be shipped to Dominica to help those affected by Tropical Storm Erika - the collection was held at the New Testament Church of God at Rickford's Hill

Members of Aylesbury's Dominican community get together items of food and clothing which will be shipped to Dominica to help those affected by Tropical Storm Erika - the collection was held at the New Testament Church of God at Rickford's Hill

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Members of Aylesbury’s Dominican community have sent more than 40 boxes of supplies to the island as it tries to rebuild after the devastation of Tropical Storm Erika.

The tiny Caribbean island of Dominica was devastated last month when the tropical storm caused floods and mudslides.

Members of Aylesbury's Dominican community get together items of food and clothing which will be shipped to Dominica to help those affected by Tropical Storm Erika - the collection was held at the New Testament Church of God at Rickford's Hill

Members of Aylesbury's Dominican community get together items of food and clothing which will be shipped to Dominica to help those affected by Tropical Storm Erika - the collection was held at the New Testament Church of God at Rickford's Hill

More than 30 people have died and many more are still missing.

Members of the town’s Dominican community, which numbers more than 100, are now supporting a relief effort co-ordinated in the UK by the Dominica High Commission.

The first batch of 43 boxes containing non-perishable food such as rice, pasta and flour, clean clothing and ladies’ personal hygiene are set to be shipped to the island later this week.

Lavinia Ruiz, who is co-ordinating the appeal in Aylesbury, said: “Dominica was hit by a bad hurricane in 1979 but there has never been anything of this magnitude before.

Members of Aylesbury's Dominican community get together items of food and clothing which will be shipped to Dominica to help those affected by Tropical Storm Erika - the collection was held at the New Testament Church of God at Rickford's Hill

Members of Aylesbury's Dominican community get together items of food and clothing which will be shipped to Dominica to help those affected by Tropical Storm Erika - the collection was held at the New Testament Church of God at Rickford's Hill

“More than 30 people have died, there has been a lot of damage to property, rivers have burst their banks and some houses have even been buried.”

Mrs Ruiz has lived all her life in Aylesbury however her parents Stan and Isaline Williams moved to Aylesbury from the island in the 1960s.

She said it was very difficult to explain why Aylesbury had such a large Dominican community.

Mrs Ruiz said: “Possibly people came because there was a lot of factory work.

Members of Aylesbury's Dominican community get together items of food and clothing which will be shipped to Dominica to help those affected by Tropical Storm Erika - the collection was held at the New Testament Church of God at Rickford's Hill

Members of Aylesbury's Dominican community get together items of food and clothing which will be shipped to Dominica to help those affected by Tropical Storm Erika - the collection was held at the New Testament Church of God at Rickford's Hill

“My parents worked for Sony for more than 30 years.

“There are a lot of Dominican communities in the UK particularly in some parts of London.

“Hearing about the numbers of lives that had been lost made the community here want to do their bit.

“Personally, I have been to Dominica a few times so I think of it as a second home.”

The first set of boxes were packed and left at the New Testament Church of God at Rickford’s Hill in Aylesbury on Monday ready to be picked up and transported by lorry ready for shipping.

Mrs Ruiz said that the collection had been a big success and that she hoped to repeat it at some point in the future.

The island, which has a population of 72,000, is located in the Lesser Antilles and should not be confused with the Dominican Republic.

It was colonised by Great Britain in 1763, and gained independence in 1978.

Anyone interested in donating items in support of the appeal can contact the Dominica High Commission, which is based in London on 0207 3705194 or Mrs Ruiz on 07943 905499.