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Barry Alleyne in Roseau Dominica


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Dominica is in a state of emergency.

In more ways than one.

In the wake of the passage of Category 5 Hurricane Maria, the island’s capital city Roseau is in ruins. Looters were running amok as law enforcement officials tried to restore law and order, streets were impassable and citizens were fighting for food.

Unconfirmed reports indicate the death toll could be as low as 20 or as high as 35.

Hurricane Maria has truly left the Nature Isle flattened.

The storm and its 160 mile per hour winds had blasted  Dominica late Monday night, and most had feared the worst.

They were right.

Faced with the crisis, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was forced to declare a state of emergency, with citizens being ordered to stay off the streets between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m.

That too would be a tall ask.

So concerned were officials about looting, personnel from the Dominica Police Force resorted to manning the gates of hardware stores and lumberyards.

In town, emotions were frayed. Scores stood still as two angry men raced behind a looter, eventually tracking him down and taking away a bag filled with potatoes.

In the background, four rapid shots from a semi-automatic hand gun were also heard.

Police stood by as looters took food from open retailers, but were much more active when any tried to break into closed business houses.

Aid to Dominica started to trickle in Wednesday, with the Barbados Coast Guard vessel HMBS Leonard C. Banfield arriving just after 9 a.m. with a Barbados Fire Service Search and Rescue team, food, water, and medical supplies.

Expected to follow today is a team from the Caribbean Emergency Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) and the HMBS Rudyard Lewis, with more supplies.