Hurricane Maria roared over the small nation of Dominica late Monday as a monster Category 5 storm, causing “mind boggling” devastation, according to the country’s prime minister.
Maria, the second major storm of the month, slammed into Dominica with potentially catastrophic winds of nearly 260 km/h, ripping roofs off homes on the island of about 73,000 people.
“Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit wrote in an emotional Facebook statement.
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Skerrit said he feared what daylight would bring and that “we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths.”
“So, far the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with. The roof to 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,” the prime minister wrote.
The prime minister provided brief updates on social media throughout the night, even after the roof over his house was torn off by the storm.
“My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane,” Skerrit wrote. “House is flooding.”
The prime minister said he had been rescued a short time later.
Hurricane Maria briefly weakened to a Category 4 storm after making landfall over Dominica but quickly regained its strength as it churned near Guadeloupe.
Skerrit said he would survey the damage early Tuesday but his focus would be on helping his fellow citizens.
“I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating…indeed, mind boggling,” Skerrit said in the statement. “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,” the prime minister said.
A police official on the island told the Associated Press Monday that there were no immediate reports of casualties but it was still too dangerous for officers to do a full assessment as the storm raged outside.
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“Where we are, we can’t move,” the official said in a brief phone interview while hunkered down against the region’s second Category 5 hurricane this month.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said at 8 a.m. that the extremely dangerous storm is on a forecast track approaching the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico between Tuesday night and Wednesday.
–with a file from the Associated Press