Can you imagine the Caribbean but without its beautiful beaches? No? Well, the way in which the world is heading due to climate change, that might not be just a question. The island of the Dominican Republic, my home country, is one of the many islands in the Caribbean that are at risk of floods, increased hurricanes, rising sea levels, and threats to the lives of the residents.. Climate change also affects the food security of the country and even the living conditions. With the amount of flooding and droughts that the island has become exposed to, people’s lives are not only at risk but also their jobs and their homes. Living in New York City, I don’t experience any of these problems, but whenever I call home my relatives always tell me how scared they are of another possible flood or storm, or how the power is constantly going out. Whenever I visit the island there are always abandoned homes or places boarded up because of the fact that the cost of repairs after a flood or hurricane is too expensive.
The Dominican Republic is a developing country with great dependence on the sea and its coasts for the number of tourists it attracts. The island is also incapable of the protection needed against natural disasters and hazards that are increasing due to climate change. There is no emergency alert system in place to allow the residents to react in time to disasters, so with the continuous amount of flooding and constant tropical storms, homes are being severely damaged or destroyed. The government of the Dominican Republic is also corrupt so any external help received will not be used to supply the residents with a properly constructed flood drainage system or even houses that can withstand further water damage.
According to the World Bank and the Global Climate Risk Index (of 2014 to 2019), in the coming years my home island of the Dominican Republic is going to be affected by rising sea levels brought on by climate change. They report that the erosion of the coasts will be a challenge that will only continue to get worse as global temperatures rise. In addition to this, the change in climate means that the island will see less rainfall in its rainy season but increased rainfall in its dry seasons (ARCC report). Conclusively, this means that during the rainy periods places like the Puerto Plata region will experience rainfall for around 7 hours which will cause all the small streams to overflow and flood the neighborhoods, damaging 500 homes and businesses (Flood list, North). In 2017 the same region was affected by torrential rains which resulted in destructive flooding causing approximately 1,770 people to evacuate the area and their homes. This proves that people on the island listen to warning systems and allow themselves enough time to escape the floods. Nonetheless, 364 homes were damaged by the flood and 8 were destroyed.(Flood List).
The region relies heavily on rainfall to refill its freshwater tanks or reserves. However, due to climate change, the rise in sea levels increase the risk of saltwater infiltrating the freshwater reserves and completely contaminating the island’s drinking water and its sources which are already strained because of improper management and maintenance.
Climate change is endangering the entire island of the Dominican Republic and its people. Constant flooding and torrential down pour leaves rainwater with no place to drain and the rivers overflow. The improper management of the drainage systems and the improper planning of homes and cities can and will destroy homes every year and possibly even lives..
(Global Index Report)