A Facebook post by Karina LeBlanc showing the devastation to the Caribbean island of Dominica after Hurricane Maria touched down on Sept. 18. The stage 5 storm has wiped out the island’s electricity, and food and water are running out.

LeBlanc desperate for donations for Dominica

Maple Ridge Olympian and UNICEF representative hopes to aid Carribean island recover after Hurricane

Karina LeBlanc is a tireless advocate for her current community, but is hoping residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows will lend their support to her native one, the Caribbean island of Dominica, which was decimated by Hurricane Maria on Sept. 18.

The Category 5 storm ravaged the island nation of just more than 73,000 people. According to recent estimates, 90 per cent of properties were significantly damaged, with food and water becoming scarce and electricity cut to the island.

LeBlanc, a 2012 Olympic bronze medallist on the Canadian women’s national soccer, has been active on Facebook since the storm hit, desperate for information on the status of her grandmother, who still lives on the island.

The days after the storm touched down, LeBlanc posted on Facebook that she was to be born on the island, but Hurricane David, a Category 4 storm, ripped through the island in 1979, sending her mother and sister fleeing for shelter and eventually settling in Maple Ridge.

“We are scared to see the pictures after this catastrophe. Please keep my family and friends in your prayers,” she posted.

LeBlanc is now hoping her community will come to Dominica’s rescue. She has been active on all her social media channels, including Twitter, helping raise money for the Caribbean nation.

“Dominica is my home, and right now her heart is breaking,” LeBlanc said in a UNICEF press release. “The situation there is just devastating. People’s homes have been destroyed. Electricity and clean water are nonexistent. Security is deteriorating. The situation is already awful, but it’s now becoming potentially catastrophic.”

According to UNICEF, the nine shelters on the Caribbean island are struggling to keep up with the demand. The government has issued a curfew after sunset as there’s been declining security and an increase in looting by armed groups.

In 2015, LeBlanc went back to Dominica as a representative of UNICEF, hosting a soccer clinic for children.

“There are tens of thousands of children in Dominica who have dreams just like I did, to do great things in the world and to help others. Those dreams are now in jeopardy,” said LeBlanc.

She said the agency is on the ground, helping to respond, but needs more support.

UNICEF has stepped up its efforts to support children in Dominica following the hurricane, pre-positioning emergency supplies like water purification tablets, family hygiene kits and oral rehydration salts, and coordinating distribution with national authorities to the most affected communities.

UNICEF has also collaborated on radio announcements around health, child protection and water and sanitation, and mobilized trained facilitators to provide psychosocial activities for the most vulnerable children.

“It is very hard to get official information from the island because the situation is so bad,” said David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada. “But what we do know with certainty is that this is a humanitarian emergency of tragic proportions.”

Morley said they are working with national partners to conduct rapid assessments and provide basic protection and supplies to children at risk, but the need is far outpacing their capacity.

UNICEF relies entirely on donations for its programs, provides children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more in developing countries.

• To donate to the Hurricane Maria Relief Fund in Dominica, go to www.unicef.ca/dominica.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Director of the Janda Group, Sonny Janda. (Aldergrove Star files)
COVID-19 stalls Janda Group’s development of proposed Aldergrove Town Centre

A marketing representative said construction will commence when building permits are issued

A person described as a member of the ‘Langley Fundamental Elementary school community’ has tested positive for the coronavirus (undated Google street view image)
COVID-19 case reported at Langley Fundamental Elementary school

Person is self-isolating at home, contact tracing is underway

Aldergrove’s Shirley Sawatsky and her porch witch wish fellow Langleyites a safe and happy Halloween. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Witchy wishes for a safe and happy Halloween

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

It’s no longer 80th Avenue. With the opening the 216th overpass, the road to TWU has been renamed University Drive. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
LETTER: What’s the real motive behind renaming Langley road?

University District erases historic names of several areas

The Village, a secure dementia facility, opened in Brookswood a few years back. It was the subject of a recent COVID outbreak, which was declared over on Oct. 30, 2020. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
COVID outbreaks declared over in Langley care homes

Brookswood and Fort Langley seniors facilities given all clear by B.C.’s top doctor

Under special lights, youngsters such as Lucas, bowled pumpkins to knock over glow in the dark bowling pins at the South Ridge Church Pumpkin Fest. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley church offers families socially distanced drive through autumn fair

Lots of kids dressed in costume for the South Ridge Church Pumpkin Patch Friday evening

This Halloween display by a Maple Ridge family, seen here Oct. 31 in the 23600 block of 119 Avenue, has been the target of social media complaints that it is racially insensitive. (Black Press Media)
Halloween gallows display by B.C. family slammed as racially insensitive by social media critics

Refers to medieval times, not Black lynchings, says man responsible

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

The Excelsior 4 are set to make their second court appearance in Abbotsford on Monday (Nov. 2). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
‘Excelsior 4’: Animal activists set to enter not guilty plea in Abbotsford hog farm case

Animal rights activists expected to plead not guilty to charges, protest for Vancouver scheduled

Most Read