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Dominica wary as Category 5 Hurricane Maria approaches

AMANDA LYNCH-FOSTER, [email protected]

Dominica wary as Category 5 Hurricane Maria approaches

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Wary after their deadly brush with Tropical Storm Erika two years ago, Dominica braced itself tonight for Hurricane Maria which rapidly strengthened today into an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane headed near to them.

After brushing Barbados with its outer bands earlier today, Maria quickly became a Category 4 storm as it approached our northern neighbours, with maximum sustained winds increasing to near 130 mph (215 km/h).

According to the 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Centre in the United States, Maria is moving toward the west-northwest at near 9 mph (15 km/h). On the current forecast track, the center of Maria will move near to Dominica tonight and then onwards to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands by Tuesday night into Wednesday.

At 7 p.m. Maria was located about 30 miles (45 km) east-southeast of Dominica and about 40 miles (65 km) north of Martinique.

Barbadian media professional Tyson Henry, who now lives in Dominica, told the NATIONNEWS that people there were apprehensive, mindful of the carnage that had been wrought by flooding and landslides associated with Tropical Storm Erika in 2015.

“From speaking to everyone in terms of the mood… Erika was a tropical storm, this is a Category Four hurricane – you can’t compare the two in terms of the carnage that this is probably going to wreak on people [in terms of] the homes, the various infrastructure that’s not been completed which was being rebuilt after Erika,” he shared.

“It’s very scary, I can’t lie because from what I heard about Erika that damage was caused primarily by water because of the rivers. That’s actually really what did most of the damage. This is going to be a lot of water and Category 4 winds,” said Henry.

He reported that water was shut off from as early as 10:00 am on Monday while the electricity went out in the early afternoon. He also noted that there had already been reports of land slippage and some road blockages due to land and boulders falling down cliff side in the mountainous island.

Meanwhile, Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt appealed to citizens to “treat the approaching hurricane very seriously”, despite having prepared for several other storms this hurricane season, which eventually spared the island.

“As I said yesterday, I know we have prepared for numerous hurricanes this hurricane season and none has visited us thus far, let us not take this hurricane approaching us for granted, let us take it seriously and use the time that we have to prepare ourselves adequately,” urged the Prime Minister. (ALF)