Dominica estimates Tropical Storm Erika damage at nearly half of GDP

A preliminary assessment of the effects of Tropical Storm Erika on the island of Dominica has found damage to basic infrastructure alone that amounts to nearly half of the small country's GDP, the prime minister said Thursday.

Repairs to roads and bridges across the eastern Caribbean island will total more than $226 million, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said. He added that it will cost about $4 million to clear debris and more than $14 million to rebuild the Melville Hall Airport, one of two in Dominica.

"Every piece of equipment at the airport has been destroyed beyond use," Skerrit said.

The overall cost to the island, which has a GDP of about $500 million and a population of 72,000, is likely to be higher. The preliminary estimate does not include the cost to replace 371 homes that were destroyed, mostly in the southeastern community of Petite-Savanne.

A team from the World Bank was in the country conducting a more detailed damage assessment but it has not yet been released.

The storm triggered floods and mudslides on Aug. 27 that killed at least 31 people. Thirty-five people are still missing.