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Category 5 Hurricane Maria Strikes Dominica, PM Skerrit: Nation is Devastated

Hurricane Maria has strengthened to a Category 5 storm/Photo: Reuters
Category 5 Hurricane Maria Strikes Dominica, PM Skerrit: Nation is Devastated

“I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating…indeed, mind-boggling”, PM Skerrit told teleSUR.

The Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit told teleSUR that his nation has been devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Skerrit said initial reports are indicative of “widespread devastation. So far, we have lost all that money can buy and replace”.

But, the prime minister then said that his greatest fear was waking up to the “news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains”.

He related that the true extent of the devastation will be revealed when the onslaught of the Category 5 Maria subsides. “Come tomorrow morning we will hit the road, as soon as the all clear is given, in search of the injured and those trapped in the rubble”.

Earlier, the PM had to be rescued when the hurricane bore down on the island. Skerrit posted to his Facebook account that the roof of his house had been blown off and his home was being flooded.

“So far, the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to, or otherwise made contact with. The roof of 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 warned that “It is too early to speak of the condition of the air and seaports”, but suspect that both would be inoperable for a few days. “That is why I am eager now to solicit the support of friendly nations and organizations with helicopter services. For, I personally, am eager to get up and get around the country to see and determine what’s needed.

“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”, he added.

He urged: “Please let the world know Dominica has been devastated. We do not know how many are dead if any. We shall know in the morning. The hurricane is still on. We were brutalized by the hurricane.”

Landfall

Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island, packing winds of over 260 kilometers per hour.

It is the first time Dominica has ever been hit by a Category 5. In 1979, Hurricane David struck the island as a Category 4 storm, the deadliest to date. 56 people died and three-quarters of the population were left homeless.

There has been no news of casualties so far – but a police official, Inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste told AP, it was still too dangerous for officers to make a full assessment as the storm raged outside.

“Where we are, we can’t move,” he said in a brief phone interview.

A caller on the national DBS Radio Dominica said the Princess Margaret Hospital’s “roof is gone and the generator has failed so it is in total darkness… this is bad.”

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has offered immediate resistance to Dominica.

The U.S. based National Hurricane Center has warned “Maria is developing the dreaded pinhole eye.”

That’s a sign of an extremely strong hurricane likely to get even mightier, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. Just like when a spinning ice skater brings in their arms and rotates faster, a smaller, tighter eye shows the same physics, he said.

Maria’s eye shrank to a narrow 16 kilometers across. “You just don’t see those in weaker hurricanes,” McNoldy said.

The hurricane was upgraded to a major Category 5 storm as it closed in on the Leeward Islands. Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are all in its crosshairs.

Maria is following a path similar to Hurricane Irma, which left a trail of destruction just two weeks ago.

Dominican broadcaster Daryl Titre told teleSUR English, at 5:42 p.m., a little over two hours before Hurricane Maria was due to make landfall, that it had been raining heavily since 11:00 a.m.

“In my part of the country there is still electricity, but I have had reports that there is no electricity in other parts. As well as heavy wind, as well as fallen trees in certain areas,” he said.

But minutes after his interview with teleSUR English his power went out.

Titre said that Dominicans are not taking the hurricane warning lightly despite having been spared a direct hit from Irma, one week ago. He said people seemed to be taking the preparations seriously and he was confident that they are as prepared as they could be for the storm.

The U.S. based National Hurricane Center said, “On the forecast track, the center of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands late today and tonight and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea Tuesday and Tuesday night.”

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Rosello has declared a state of emergency as the island prepares for a direct hit expected on Wednesday as it faces a hurricane warning. It would be the first time in 85 years that the country receives a direct hit if Maria stays on its current course.

Hurricane warnings are also in place for Guadeloupe, St. Kitts & Nevis, Montserrat, Martinique, British Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, and U.S. Virgin Islands, while a tropical storm watch is in effect for Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Barthelemy (St. Barts) and Anguilla.

Several of these islands suffered devastating damage from Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest and most sustained hurricanes in history at the start of the month.

Meanwhile, at 10 p.m., Hurricane Jose continued to move along a northern path at 8 miles per hour, packing 75 mph winds 235 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

“Jose is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches over eastern Long Island, southeast Connecticut, southern Rhode Island, and southeast Massachusetts, including Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, through Wednesday,” the NHC forecast, adding that the hurricane is expected to dissipate in the next few days.

Tropical Storm Norma, which is still active, is located south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is expected to gradually dissipate.

Last week, Hurricane Katia battered the Atlantic coast of Mexico and later blew itself out in the center of the country without causing major damage.

At the beginning of September, Tropical Storm Lidia left seven people dead on its stormy passage through the state of Baja California.

Mexico is one of the countries most vulnerable to hurricanes because of its thousands of miles of coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific and its proximity to the hurricane belt.

Source/teleSUR

 

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