Maria: Dominica PM gives terrifying account of being at 'complete mercy' of a Category 5 hurricane

'The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God!'

Will Worley
Tuesday 19 September 2017 09:03 BST
Dominica's Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, described his experience of the hurricane on Facebook
Dominica's Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, described his experience of the hurricane on Facebook (Flickr/Roosevelt Skerrit )

The Prime Minister of Dominica has described first hand being at “the complete mercy” of Hurricane Maria as it swept through the island.

Roosevelt Skerrit took shelter in his official residence and announced on social media that his roof had been torn off, prompting fear for poorer islanders.

Hurricane Maria was of Category 5 strength when it blew into the 72,000- strong island with sustained winds of 160mph.

It has now been downgraded to an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

Satellite imagery shows Hurricane Maria gaining strength

Mr Skerrit’s social media feed was unremarkable prior to the storm’s arrival, advising citizens of press briefings and storm preparation procedures.

But as Maria drew in, the Prime Minister’s Facebook account became more panicked.

“The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God!” Mr Skerrit announced early on Monday evening.

He continued: “We do not know what is happening outside. We not dare look out. All we are hearing is the sound of galvanise [steel roofs] flying.

“The sound of the fury of the wind. As we pray for its end!”

As Maria continued to pummel Mr Skeritt’s building, he said: “Certainly no sleep for anyone in Dominica. I believe my residence may have sustained some damage.”

And later, Mr Skerrit simply said: “Rough! Rough! Rough!”

Close to 10pm, the eye of the storm moved inland over Dominica. Despite living in a stronger property than many residents of the island, it was around this time Mr Skerrit announced: “My roof is gone.

“I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.”

His final post from the storm said: “I have been rescued.”

After the worst of the storm had passed, Mr Skerrit released a statement saying the scale of the damage was “mind boggling” and “devastating”.

“So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace,” he said, adding that the roofs of nearly every person he had spoken to had been torn off.

Mr Skerrit said there was still a risk of casualties from landslides caused by the heavy rains brought by the storm, and appealed to the international community for aid.

Hurricane Maria is now on course for the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

If it retains its strength, it will be the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years, since a Category 4 storm swept the island in 1932.

Puerto Rico narrowly avoided a direct hit two weeks ago from Hurricane Irma, which reached a rare Category 5 status and ranked as the most powerful Atlantic storm on record before devastating several smaller islands, including the US Virgin Islands of St Thomas and St John.

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