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Tropical storm Erika hits the Caribbean, claims 27 lives

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

San Juan: A tropical storm has unleashed itself on the Caribbean islands of Dominica as it makes his way through the Caribbean. The storm has claimed 27 lives thus far, reported a Dominican media portal.

Dozens more were still missing in the storm “Erika”.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit suggested earlier Friday that the toll was in the range of 20. But the exact numbers haven’t yet been specified.

Hurricane_Erika_1997

Dominica’s works and communications minister Ian Pinnar told a radio station that authorities had recovered 14 bodies and were searching for at least 25 people listed as missing.

While a spokesperson for the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency, based in Barbados, said as many as 30 people were missing in Dominica.

Most of the 27 fatalities were in the southeastern area of Petite Savanne, according to the report.

The worst natural disaster in Dominica’s recent history was in 1979, when Hurricane David caused 32 deaths.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Aftermath of Harvey : Sewa International Rescues Stranded Texans. Here’s How You Can Help Too!

As hurricane Harvey left the streets swamped, Sewa International volunteers took to the ground to offer assistance. The good news is you can help, too!

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Sewa international
Sewa volunteers continue to smile, even in the face of adversity. Sewa International website

Houston, September 5, 2017 : For over a week in August, Houston, home to almost six million people, became a city under siege. As hurricane Harvey left the streets swamped and the people marooned without food and water, Sewa International volunteers in Houston took to the ground to undertake relief and rescue operations.

Sewa International is a Hindu faith-based, nonprofit service organization that specializes in undertaking disaster relief and rehabilitation programs.

Living up to their motto, ‘Together we serve better’ and smiling even in the face of adversity, teams of volunteers constantly coordinated relief efforts undertaken by Sewa volunteers in their respective local Houston municipalities along with helping people find shelter during the heavy rains. Additionally, the volunteers also delivered food to people stranded during the storm.

In the aftermath of the destructive tropical storm, relief efforts by Sewa International volunteers, largely assisted by the Indian community in Houston, continue to provide rescue and respite to the victims of hurricane Harvey.  Volunteers are committed to rescuing people stranded on the roads in their trucks and boats while doctors associated with the organization are offering free medical consultation.

Sewa Hot Line: (281) 909-7392 / (281) 909-SEWA

Sewa International is aiming to provide survivors with emergency supplies like food, water, shelter and medicine, along with assistance in the long run to help flood-affected Texans recover and rebuild their property.

The Houston chapter of Sewa International is now appealing to all businesses and non-profit organizations to join hands in helping Texans deal with these stressful times and offer aid in whichever manner they can. All resources will be listed in Sewa International’s help directory on their website and will be publicized throughout the community.

hurricane harvey
Sewa International urges citizens to come forward and assist victims of hurricane Harvey

People wanting to pitch in from afar can donate to Sewa International and assist the victims affected by the storm.

You can extend assistance by donating money or registering yourself as a volunteer with Sewa International for home cleaning, and distribution of food and emergency kits.

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All donations and registrations can be made at the Sewa International website here

Sewa International volunteers can be reached at their Hot Line: (281) 909-7392 / (281) 909-SEWA


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How Indians have popularized the terms ‘Aunty’ and ‘Uncle’ across the world

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By Vishnu Bisram

I often hear outsiders say that Guyanese and Trinis have more ‘aunts and uncles’ than anyone else on the globe. It is because people in both societies (and probably Suriname as well) tend to refer to elders by the endearing ‘Aunty’ or ‘Uncle’ rather than by their names or as Mr and Ms.

I travel extensively around the globe and from my findings, the terms Aunty and Uncle apparently were introduced and institutionalized in the Caribbean by the indentured Indian laborers, because in societies where there aren’t large numbers of Indians, the terms are not commonly used.

Among Indian communities worldwide, Aunty and Uncle are commonly used to refer to elders even if they are not relatives. They are used all over India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal, even in government offices. The terms are used in Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma, Mauritius, etc where there are large communities of Indians. I heard them used by Indians to address complete strangers, as in Guyana, in places like Australia and New Zealand and in North America, UK, Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, and Guadeloupe. When I first visited Australia in 1995, there were hardly any Indians. But by 2015, there were large communities of Indians among whom Aunty and Uncle are in common us as well as ethnic kinship terms (Cha Cha, Cha Chi, etc) to refer to blood or marriage relatives.

In Trinidad, as in Guyana, while Aunty and Uncle are used, I heard non-Indians refer to others as ‘Mister’ and ‘Missus’. Some Indians also used Mister and Miss to refer to fellow Indians they are not familiar with, but in general Indians tend to use the more endearing Aunty and Uncle. In Guyana, Indians in rural areas tend to refer to some non-Indians as Aunty and Uncle and rural Africans also use the terms to refer to some Indians in their communities among whom they grew up, as well as fellow Africans.

In Durban and other parts of South Africa, Aunty and Uncle are commonly used among Indians along with their ethnic kinship terms. Some Blacks who live in Indian communities also follow Indians and use Aunty and Uncle in referring to older Indians.

In Fiji, the Black Fijians also refer to older Indians as Aunty and Uncle. The same is true in Mauritius where Creoles (local Blacks, Mixed and French) who live among Indian communities follow suit. In Australia, I heard some Whites, who regularly socialize with Indians among whom I interacted, refer to elderly Indians as Uncle and Aunty as well. Ditto in New Zealand! But in the mainstream, Whites in Australia and New Zealand use Mr and Ms to refer to others (regardless of age) as a mark of respect as is the norm in North America and Europe.

The interesting finding in my travels, is that in North America and Europe the Indians persist with using Aunty and Uncle to refer to older folks. In British Columbia and in Los Angeles and San Francisco among Fijian Indians, ethnic kinship terms and Aunt and Uncle are commonly used. Youngsters in San Francisco called me uncle at a store. And Hindus in their temple surroundings or in a community relationship, whether in New York, Florida, San Francisco or Dallas use Bhai and Bahin to describe those in their age group. Some Indians use Mai and Pai as well as Cha Chi and Cha Cha, Nani and Nana, Mamu and Mami to refer to those much older than them even when there is no blood relationship. It is all done out of respect for the elderly or for fellow humans. A visit at a West Indian temple in Brixton, London found Bhai and Bahin commonly used to refer to each other as is the custom in America.

Among Indians it is considered disrespectful not to refer to someone much older than yourself as Aunty or Uncle even in societies like the US. However, at the workplace, Mr and Ms are routinely used. (Photo Credit: www.notonthehighstreet.com)

The story was first published in Guyana-based The Stabroek News as a Opinion Letter. It may be noted that Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad have a rich presence of people of Indian origin.

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Florida declares state of emergency ahead of storm

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Weather - WESH Home
Weather – WESH Home

Washington:  Florida Governor Rick Scott declared on Friday a state of emergency ahead of a tropical storm which was expected to hit the state from Sunday into next week and pose a “severe threat to the entire state”.

After dumping torrential rain in the eastern Caribbean on Thursday, tropical storm “Erika” is traversing the northeastern Carribean Sea with maximum sustained winds of about 90 km per hour and the National Hurricane Centre has predicted that from the upcoming Sunday to Wednesday, the storm will travel through Florida’s peninsula, said an executive order by the governor.

Four people died and several others were missing as tropical storm Erika hit the Caribbean island nation of Dominica on Thursday, according to Xinhua.

A visually impaired senior citizen and two children were killed when a mudslide crashed into their house in the southeast of the island, and another man’s body was found near his home following a mudslide in the capital city of Roseau, according to reports monitored in Kingston, Jamaica.

The storm has dumped a general rainfall of about 15 inches (388 mm) on Dominica within 24 hours, unleashing serious flooding and mudslides that damaged roads and houses. Electricity and water supplies were cut in 80 percent of the island.

(IANS)