Eye of blizzard expected to pass near Dominica on Monday evening with hurricane set to hit eastern islands still struggling after Hurricane Irma
The Caribbean island of Dominica has been” brutalised and devastated” by category 5 Hurricane Maria, the prime minister of the country has said.
The eyewall of the hurricane barrelled into Dominica’s eastern coast on Monday evening, crossing towards the former British colony’s capital, Roseau, on the south-west side.
Hurricane Maria had intensified into different categories 5 storm as it barrelled towards Dominica. It is expected to move towards the eastern Caribbean islands still working to provide basic food, water and health services to the regions hard hit by Hurricane Irma.
The US National Hurricane Center( NHC) said the” major hurricane” was already creating maximum sustained gales of 160 miles per hour and would strengthen further over the next two days.
Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of Dominica, experienced the force of the hurricane first hand. He posted on his official Facebook page that the wind had ripped the roof off his house and wrote he was ” at the complete compassion of the hurricane “.
After he was rescued from the property, he told Caracas-based TV station Telesur that the island had been “brutalised” and “devastated” by Maria.
” In the morning we will know how many dead there are ,” he said.
Earlier, residents of the island, which escaped Hurricane Irma, had flocked to supermarkets to stock up on essentials as officials advised people living in low-lying areas or along rivers to move to high ground.
The island’s airport and ports were closed, and the local water company shut down its systems to protect its intake valves from rubble churned up by the cyclone. The government opened all shelters.
Late on Monday, a police official, inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste, said there were no immediate the reporting of casualties but it was still too dangerous for officers to do a full appraisal as the blizzard raged outside.
” Where “weve been”, we can’t move ,” he said in a brief phone interview.
” It’s really a desperate situation ,” said Chamberlain Emanuel, head of the environment commission at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States( OESC ).
In a telephone interview from St Lucia, Emanuel said the incoming blizzard threatened to slow the recovery from Irma. The scale of the extermination left by that hurricane is becoming clearer by the hour as communications systems are restored across the region.” We’re trying to be resilient but the vulnerability is just too high ,” he said.
Irma, also different categories 5 hurricane, left about 40 people dead in the Caribbean before veering towards Florida, where at least 20 people died.
The NHC cautioned Hurricane Maria could make a” dangerous cyclone upsurge accompanied by large and destructive waves” that would create water levels by as much as 9ft( 2.7 metres) as it approached approached the French province of Guadeloupe, the base for relief operations for several islands were destroyed by Irma this month.
Islanders on nearby Martinique were ordered to stay indoors under a maximum-level “violet” alert. And the energy supplier EDF said power had been cut off from 10,000 homes on the island, which has a population of 400, 000.
Up to 20 in of rain could drench the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands through Wednesday night- conditions that could cause life-threatening floods and mudslides.
Officials in Puerto Rico advised residents of wooden or otherwise flimsy homes to find safe shelter.
” You have to evacuate. Otherwise you’re going to die ,” said Hector Pesquera, the island’s public safety commissioner.” I don’t know how to make this any clearer .”
Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and the British island of Montserrat are also on alert.
Emanuel said the region needed help from the entire international community because the small islands have few resources.” The force-out of the wind from that category 5-plus cyclone was truly something that was unprecedented and “theyre not” ready for ,” he said.
Criticised for the pace of relief efforts in their overseas territories devastated by Irma, Britain, France and the Netherlands said they were boosting resources for the Caribbean as Maria approached.
” We are planning for the unexpected, we are planning for the worst ,” said Chris Austin, head of a UK military taskforce set up to deal with Irma, as the British Virgin Islands readied for the storm.
On the island of St Martin, which is split between France and the Netherlands, the Red Cross flew in 11 tonnes of aid from the Dutch mainland on Sunday, including urgently needed materials to replace roofs ripped off by Irma.
Although Hurricane Irma did not make landfall on mainland Puerto Rico, its after consequences are still being feel. For some, the electricity returned only a few days after the blizzard, while others in neighborhoods like Old San Juan, Miramar, and Hato Rey have only just had their power turned on over the weekend and some still have no power at all.
In Santurce, one of the biggest neighborhoods in San Juan, residents could be seen on Monday preparing for the latest blizzard, tying down and securing large potted plants and satellite dishes, and preparing wooden committees that will eventually protect the windows of homes and industries.
Gas stations began to get busy over the afternoon with four or five cars awaiting at every pump. The local Walmart was mobbed with people stocking up on water, soft drink, chips, canned food, and batteries.
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