This graphic from the radar in Martinique, shows the direction Maria took as it tracked right across the island of Dominica, with wind speeds of 160mph (260kmh) and flooding rains.
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“We have lost all what money can buy and replace.”
These were the words of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in describing the “widespread devastation” which Hurricane Maria inflicted when it passed directly over his island Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Maria is the first Category Five hurricane to ever hit Dominica, which suffered significant damage and many deaths when Tropical Storm Erika passed two years ago. In 1979, Hurricane David hit the island as a Category Four storm, killing 56 people and leaving three quarters of the population homeless.
Barbadian media professional Tyson Henry, who now lives in Dominica, told NATION NEWS the situation was “terrible”, adding he was “not sure how many people still have their roof.”
Like many others, including PM Skerrit, Henry lost the roof to his own home which he said was suffering “comprehensive damage” and “flooding throughout”.
Communicating with NATION NEWS just after midnight via mobile phone, while taking refuge in a less damaged area of his home, he stressed he was “grateful for making it through so far.”
With daybreak still hours away and radio stations going off air one by one, it is not yet clear what is the extent of the damage and whether there are any fatalities.
PM Skerrit voiced the fears of many when he stated in his Facebook post that his “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.”
He stated his intention to check out the damage himself later this morning as soon as the all clear is given “in search of the injured and those trapped in the rubble.”
He stated that he suspected both the airport and seaport may be inoperable for a few days and called on the support of “friendly nations and organisations with helicopter services for I personally am eager to get up and get around the country to see and determine what’s needed.”
According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida, Maria has moved over Dominica and is now 45 miles (70 km) west northwest of Dominica. The monster hurricane weakened slightly to a Category Four hurricane after moving over Dominica, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/h).
Maria skirted just to the south of Guadeloupe and was headed towards St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat and the British and US Virgin Islands.