Hurricane Maria: Dominica loses 'all what money can buy' as Category 5 storm batters Caribbean island

'Initial reports are of widespread devastation,' says Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

Jon Sharman
Tuesday 19 September 2017 08:08 BST
Satellite imagery shows Hurricane Maria gaining strength

Dominica’s Prime Minister has said Hurricane Maria has stripped the island of “all what money can buy”.

The Category 5 storm slammed into the small Caribbean island overnight.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit captured the terrifying power of Hurricane Maria in a series of Facebook posts, writing that he was “at the complete mercy” of the storm.

After being rescued, he said: “We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds.”

He added: “Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace.

“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.

“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.”

Maria’s sustained wind speeds reached 160mph, with higher gusts, on Monday night.

Dominica is a former British colony home to 72,000 people that lies in the eastern Caribbean about halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe, to the north, and Martinique, to the south.

As the storm—the second major hurricane to pass through the region in the past few weeks—moved in, Mr Skerrit wrote: “We do not know what is happening outside. We not dare look out. All we are hearing is the sound of galvanize flying. The sound of the fury of the wind. As we pray for its end!”

Hurricane warnings have also been issued for Guadeloupe, St Kitts and Nevis, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico where a state of emergency has been declared amid fears of a direct hit, just weeks after Hurricane Irma struck.

Up to 15in (38cm) of rain is predicted to fall as Maria barrels across the Caribbean, with “isolated maximum amounts of 20in (51cm)” expected to deluge the British Virgin Islands.

In Anguilla up to 8in (20cm) could be recorded. The National Hurricane Centre has warned that “rainfall on these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides”.

British Virgin Islands left devastated by Irma

If Maria retains its strength, it would be the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years, since a Category 4 storm swept the US island territory in 1932, Hurricane Centre spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

The last major hurricane to strike Puerto Rico directly was Georges, which made landfall there as a Category 3 storm in 1998, he said. The territory was dealt a glancing blow by Irma earlier this month.

Maria weakened overnight to a Category 4 storm, it was reported, but forecasters said it remained extremely dangerous.

Additional reporting by agencies

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