Caribbean Update – 18 September 2017

In response to the recent devastation caused by Hurricane IRMA across the Caribbean, DART International have been requested to deploy a team to the islands to help with the relief effort. Our first team of highly skilled Arborists (all volunteers) will leave the UK later this week fully equipped to be self-sufficient during their deployment. They will be clearing damaged trees and debris working alongside “Rescue Global” and playing their part in the regional reconstruction plan.

As well as providing immediate relief, our highly skilled Arborists will also be working in collaboration with local authorities and volunteers to train local people in safe use of chainsaws and tree clearance. This will help other communities affected by the disaster and improve resilience against these events in future.

We are extremely grateful to our key sponsors STEIN and Makita UK for donating all the specialist equipment that our teams need to do their work and stay safe.  We are also grateful for the support for this deployment from Redwood Global (Forst), The Arboriculture Association and EOS



The team have landed in Barbados and met up with Rescue Global and it looks like they will be flying out to Dominica tomorrow.

DART International UK would like to thank Virgin Atlantic staff for helping to process the Caribbean deployment kit through check-in this morning. Thank you also for kindly waiving all excess baggage charges. Brilliant customer service. Virgin rocks!

DEPLOYMENT UPDATE  23/09/17 - The first DART team will be heading out tomorrow morning, Sunday 24 September, flying from London Gatwick into Barbados after hurricane Maria caused the evacuation of the Puerto Rico base of operations.

Good luck to our volunteers who will be using their arborist skills across the Caribbean for the next 2 weeks, quickly and safely removing trees and assisting in the massive aid relief operation.

Images and reports to follow once they arrive on the ground.

Massive thanks to all our sponsors and supporters. Please keep donating though so we can get a 2nd relief team ready to replace these guys in 2 weeks time.



As expected, our partners Rescue Global are getting our team in to Dominica by light aircraft this morning. Rescue Global carried out a reconnaissance of the island yesterday and met with Dominica's Foreign Minister Francine Baron to approve, coordinate and prioritise DART's efforts to assist local government authorities in their clear up operation.

The team will be basing themselves in a secure hanger at the north airport, where a small detachment of US Marine Corps (who were training on the island when the hurricane struck) are collocated. The local police will also be providing support and security for our team while they're working.

The island is 90% devastated and the first big air lift to supply aid is scheduled to land this morning. However, distributing aid will remain a huge challenge until the main ring road around the island is cleared of tree debris. That's obviously where our lads come in.

Not surprisingly communications are down across the island, but Rescue Global will aim to resupply the team by air with fuel and oil every few days and we hope to get occasional brief updates on their progress.

Thanks to everyone for the overwhelming messages of support.



We received confirmation overnight that the DART team have based themselves in the airport fire station and they're already at work clearing roads. Our partners Rescue Global are flying in more water and fuel/oil for the chainsaws later today.

Thanks to Rescue Global's support and outstanding help and encouragement from sponsors and individuals across the UK Arborist industry, our guys are believed to be the first UK based team to arrive on the ground in Dominica.

Asked if we could do more to help, the Government replied, 'We could use 20 teams clearing roads.' We're not that big (yet!), but we can certainly try to put together a second team deployment and we're working on doing that now.

We're a small, entirely volunteer led charity with an equally small budget (you wouldn't believe how small), so if you can help with fund raising or by donating a few quid via our Justgiving page it would go a long, long way. All the way to Dominca - Every penny!



Update from our team in #Dominica:

'Today's task was to open up the airport road from Marigot to Roseal. The DART team began cutting and clearing windblown trees from the North and local government started cutting from the south. We met in the middle and opened the road for the first time since #HurricaneMaria.'

The team are well, but clearly shocked by the devastation they've witnessed. Aid is only now starting to arrive (the team helped unload USAID - US Agency for International Development arriving by air today), but water, food and fuel is still in critically short supply across the island. The Government and people of Dominica have a long road to recovery ahead.



Latest pictures in from the DART team currently on the ground in #Dominica show the level of #devastation. They are currently #campedout in the stadium in very challenging conditions, but they are working hard alongside the local authorities and #fire department to get roads clear. Then they will look to #hospitals and #schools. Remember these guys are all volunteers and have given up their time to use their Arb skills where it can really make a difference.

Please do your bit and help fund this amazing team:




Working side by side with their Dominica partners, our team have been busy carrying out further tree clearance work around #Roseau. They've also been liaising with representatives of the Dominica Government and our own Department for International Development #DFID to investigate various options for increasing local clearance capacity with additional equipment and training.

Back in the UK, Team 2 has also been busy preparing to deploy on Friday. With the help of Rescue Global Team 2 will relieve Team 1 in place and continue to support local agencies for a further two weeks.


Deployment Update 04/10/17

The latest images in from team 1 on the ground show the utter devastation in Dominica, where our volunteers have been continuing their work clearing what they can and working alongside local authorities to help aid reach people some of whom have no clean water, food or power and very little left of their homes.

Team 2 are preparing for departure on Friday and we must say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated and especially to our kit sponsors Stein Products Limited and Makita UK who have been busy sending us masses of equipment.

Also thanks must go to our other supporters Arboricultural Association, Först,, Linguassist Ltd. and EOS Contracting for their generous donations.

DART is run by volunteers and every penny donated goes into enabling these deployments.


Deployment Update 06/10/17

Our 2nd team of #Arborists set off early this morning for a 2 week deployment to Dominica to continue with the tree clearance and assisting in getting vital aid through. Team 1 will be returning over the weekend.

Many thanks to the support given by Airlink​ who arranged the flights through British Airways to Barbados​. The team will then meet up with our partner Rescue Global for further transport to Dominica.


Deployment Update 09/10/17

Following a handover at the airport, Team 2 hit the ground running in Dominica yesterday, with one team working the area around the Botanical Gardens in Roseau and another clearing the road to BellVue and opening up access to an important community water supply.

Meanwhile, Team 1 arrived back in Gatwick for a well earned coffee and cake debrief this morning. The first UK team to arrive on the island, they've spent the last two weeks living and working in challenging conditions alongside partners in the local Fire Department and other agencies to open up road access for the delivery of vital aid. They've been outstanding ambassadors for DART, creating a positive impression across the international relief operation. Last night the Dominican Foreign Minister Francine Baron sent them a message to say, 'We do truly appreciate all that you and your team have been doing.'


Deployment Update 10/10/17

With a larger team on the ground, DART is now starting to look beyond road clearance to address broader infrastructure issues. Schools are scheduled to reopen on Monday 16th and the team are keen to ensure that damaged trees in and around school grounds are made safe before then.

There's considerable interest in the DART concept from local people and Foreign Minister Baron has asked Jon Mackeen to appear on local television to speak about the Charity's work in Dominica.

The team are living out of a couple of small rooms above the Cricket stadium, which is now a busy helicopter landing zone. It's fairly basic, but there's a flushing toilet and the view's great. Our lads have been humbled by the cheerfulness and resilience of many Dominican friends who, after being left without homes just a couple of weeks ago, have told them, 'We have life!'

DART's extended operation in Dominica is only possible thanks to the continued support and generosity of our volunteers, their families and our sponsors #FletcherSteward#Stein, #Linguassist, #Forst, #Makita, #ArboristAssociation and #EOS.


Deployment Update 12/10/17

The support our operation in #Dominica has received from people and organisations across the Arb Industry has been overwhelming and very much appreciated.

It seems we also have friends in high places. Yesterday #LordFramlingham(former Chair of the #ArboriculturalAssociation) posed a parliamentary question in the House of Lords, 'To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the urgent need, in the wake of recent hurricanes, to clear trees, make the maximum use of their timber, and to train local communities in those skills, what plans they have to support on a permanent basis organisations like DART International UK which stand ready to carry out this work.'


Deployment Update 14/10/17

Getting schools open again is always a high priority following any disaster. Going back to school gives the children something of their normal routine and helps them to process the trauma they've all been subjected to. For the parents and wider community, knowing the kids are safe in school allows them to focus all their energy on the recovery process. Making school grounds safe from fallen and damaged trees is always one of DART's more satisfying tasks.


Deployment Update 16/10/17

The weather in #Dominica has changed from extremely hot to very wet, but despite limitations on their movement (due to the threat of landslides), the team have managed to continue working over the weekend. Alongside some agricultural land clearance work, they've started a 4 day programme of chainsaw and clearance training for 18 members of the Dominican Fire Department, using equipment supplied by the #UN and our own Government.

Yesterday's activities included assembly of saws, fuel mixing, starting process, safety features, work positioning, risk assessment, basic cross cutting, tension and compression, snedding, manual handling and retention of chains.

Today, a tropical storm has driven them inside the stadium to cover saw maintenance, chain sharpening, bar dressing and a package of Arborist related first aid, including bleed control, crush and spinal injuries, blunt trauma and respiratory injuries.


Deployment Update 18/10/17

So if a picture paints a thousand words, here's 10,000! Our partners in the Dominica Fire and Ambulance Services clearly making rapid progress from the DART training programme to supervised cutting and clearance. Our thanks go out to Stein Products Limited and Makita UK, not only for their direct support to DART, but also for equipping the Dominica Fire Department and helping to build capacity and resilience for the future.


Deployment Update 20/10/17 - Trainee's Success!


Our 28 day support operation to Dominica reached its conclusion yesterday with a certificate presentation to the 18 fire fighters who have completed our training package over the past week. Our teams have been overwhelmed by the hospitality and friendship of the people of Dominica, but most of all their courage and resilience in the face of adversity. We're especially grateful to our working partners in the Government of Dominica, the Dominica Fire and Ambulance Services, the Emergency Operations Coordination team in Rosseau and other NGOs and agencies on the ground.

Just getting our teams into Dominica was a huge logistical challenge, which we simply couldn't have achieved without the help and professionalism of Rescue Global who have sustained outstanding support to the wider Caribbean international relief effort since hurricane IRMA struck the region in early September. Our thanks also go out to Airlink, an amazing organisation without whom we would have struggled to get a second, larger team out to Dominica.

Thank you to everyone behind the DART project. Our volunteers and their families, our sponsors Stein Products Limited, Först, Linguassist Ltd., Makita UK, EOS Contracting, the Arboricultural Association and many other supporters and donors.

DART Disaster Arborist Responce team successful trainees in Dominica
DART Disaster Arborist Responce team successful trainees in Dominica

Finally, I would like to pass on a message from the Dominica Foreign Minister Francine Baron: 'I'm sorry that I didn't get a chance to say good bye and personally thank you and your team for the excellent work that you did. We appreciate your assistance and your time with us. You have contributed in a meaningful way to our recovery efforts and the training you imparted will ensure that we are better able to confront the task ahead. On behalf of the Government and people of Dominica I extend my heartfelt thanks to you, your teams and DART International UK'.