The steep, rugged terrain and unstable soils in that area has led the government to declare Petite Savanne uninhabitable, and the surviving residents were forced to evacuate. Thus the government is providing a relocation and resettlement program for Petite Savanne's survivors. The government is officially abandoning rather than rebuilding the infrastructure for this remote village, which at one time had nearly 1000 residents. I'm sure it was a difficult and controversial decision for the government to make.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Petite Savanne for the first time. It was a long trip over winding roads to get there. Not having seen this village in its prime made it difficult to fully appreciate the devastation that Tropical Storm Erika had imposed. However, it was still easy to see—even nine months later—much of the destruction. The picture below shows the village in the distance from a hill above. Look closely and you can see evidence of multiple landslides on the far hillside.
Upon our arrival, we got out from the vehicle to explore on foot. There were a couple of Dominican Army soldiers there (wearing pistols—the first guns I've seen down here) to guard against looters, but they had no qualms against sight-seers. Below is a picture of the Petite Savanne Health Center, which appeared to still be in good shape, but has been abandoned in place, never to operate again.The World Without Us." It is a non-fiction book written by Alan Weisman, which tells what would happen to our current environment if humans suddenly disappeared--how nature would take over what we left behind. In a sense, that is what is happening in Petite Savanne. Below is another picture which was taken behind a church where a bell tower stood next to what I assume to be a bathroom facility. Green vines are already “consuming” the large metal bell and its tower, as well as the iron gate to the small building. Nature is reclaiming what man has left behind. Man can overcome nature for a while, but nature is relentless, just as that book predicts.
Yet on the day that I visited, there were about a dozen men who were rebuilding a small bridge over one of the other creeks (the smoke in the picture below is from the used cement bags they were burning). As you can tell, this is another normally small creek that ended up carrying massive boulders and debris down its path, clearing a wide swath of whatever was in its way.
One must really love a specific location to consider moving back to a place without any public infrastructure whatsoever—especially when the government has tried to set up an attractive resettlement program. Apparently, Petite Savanne is considered by some residents to be their home, regardless of the dangers or the inconveniences of choosing to live there.
Whether you call it determination or just plain stubbornness, I am impressed with their tenacity. Just organizing a dozen or so folks to help design and build a creek crossing is not easy. Their eventual goal of living once again in Petite Savanne, albeit this time with no government support or infrastructure, is even more difficult. Yet still these Dominicans persist—just like those green vines!