Rebuilding After Hurricane Maria

How Ella managed to rebuild and improve livelihood for her and her family after Hurricane Maria

Ella's story

This is 44-year-old Ella. She has lived in La Plaine, a rural village in the east of Dominica, all her life.

Before Hurricane Maria struck in September 2017, Ella lived a normal life. She owned her own shop, which gave her independence and an income, and she had a safe roof over her head.

But Hurricane Maria took that away from her, swiping away her shop, her home, and her livelihood too.

It was an ordinary Monday morning when disaster struck.

Ella and her grandchild

We weren’t ready, we weren’t expecting it [to hit] so hard. That Monday morning we waited for it, we saw the rain and more rain and then came the wind.

Running from disaster

Ella was worried about the amount of water that was pouring into her home, so she bravely decided to leave in the middle of the storm. 

At that point, all she could do was gather her five children together, grab some clothes and a mattress, and walk to the nearest safe place through the powerful storm.

Eventually, they reached a concrete house, but the door and roof had gone so they had to burst open the basement door to seek cover. 



The kids didn’t go back to school until January, four months after Maria, which meant there were six people living in a confined space with little facilities or comforts.

Keeping hope alive

Ella's daughter

Ella had to send her only son to go live in Roseau with his father, some 24 miles away. There was simply not enough room for him to live with the rest of the family.

Despite everything, Ella hasn’t lost her smile. She and her ten-year-old daughter, Jendi, giggle while telling the story of a time when Ella tried to put her to bed.

There was hardly any space because of the roof leaking, and no mattresses either as they were all completely damaged by the rain.

The only solution was a makeshift wooden bed and some cushions that had dried in the sun.

Some space to breathe

Ella's family

Ella tells us what a huge difference the ShelterBox tent has made to their lives after Hurricane Maria.

It made it much better for the family because we have nowhere to go. There was little space to sleep, little space to breathe. Because the basement is small, the tent was very good.

So much more than shelter

It wasn’t just the ShelterBox tent that changed Ella and her family’s life. The solar lights that they received have also given the family some extra comfort through the darkness.

Hundreds of families just like Ella’s were severely affected by the two deadly hurricanes of September 2017.  

We know that shelter is more than just a roof over your head. It’s the process of recovery, of returning to normal when disaster strikes. 

One year on from the devastating hurricanes that hit the Caribbean, ShelterBox aid is still making a positive difference to families just like Ella’s, helping them to rebuild and recover.

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