Caribbean pleas for help on climate change, rebuilding

Five days after Hurricane Maria brutalized his lush island, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit stepped up to the podium at the largest annual gathering of the world’s leaders to talk about climate change and rebuilding.

With two category 5 hurricanes striking the Caribbean in 12 days, he said, the world could no longer deny climate change. The double impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria meant the region needed help — immediately, to alleviate suffering, and in the long term, to rebuild stronger than before.

“We need resources, now,” Skerrit said during his emotional 17 minutes address Saturday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “We will need to rebuild homes and villages. We will need to rebuild communities, schools, roads and bridges. We will need to rebuild a country and we cannot do it alone.”

The cost of two hurricanes — which left several islands including Dominica and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in ruins — is still being calculated. But with preliminary estimates ranging from $250 million for Barbuda and billions of dollars more for Dominica, it’s clear that the losses are beyond the Caribbean’s financial ability to fix on its own.

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