ROSEAU, Dominica, Tuesday September 19, 2017 – Hurricane Maria, one of the fastest intensifying hurricanes on record, has left widespread devastation in Dominica, with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit reporting that the country has so far lost “all what money can buy and replace”.
But his biggest fear is the loss of life and injuries that have resulted from the Category 5 hurricane which passed right over the island last night.
Hurricane Maria brought 160 mile-per-hour winds that blew off roofs – among them the roof of Skerrit’s official residence.
Communications were knocked out and the Prime Minister, who had been communicating via Facebook throughout the night, last posted a message just after 1 a.m., when he said the “initial reports are of widespread devastation”.
“So far, the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with. The roof to my own official residence was among the first to go and this apparently triggered an avalanche of torn away roofs in the city and the countryside,” he wrote.
“My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.”
Skerrit said that once the all-clear is given today, the search for the injured and those trapped in the rubble will begin.
“I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating…indeed, mind-boggling. My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured.
“We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds,” the Dominican leader wrote.
Skerrit said it was too early to speak of the condition of the air and seaports, but he suspected they would both be inoperable for days to come.
He is therefore trying to solicit the support of friendly nations and organizations with helicopter services, so he can see the destruction and determine what is needed.
Hurricane Maria, which developed from a storm to a Category 5 hurricane in just over a day, weakened briefly overnight to Category 4 status before regaining strength, and battered Guadeloupe this morning.
Reuters reported a senior French Civil Protection official saying that while Martinique escaped largely unscathed, a communications blackout with Guadeloupe meant it would be several more hours before damage there could be assessed.
Hurricane Maria is expected to hit the Virgin Islands – still recovering from Hurricane Irma which hit two weeks ago – by this afternoon and Puerto Rico later today into early tomorrow.