Hurricane Maria slammed into the Caribbean island of Dominica as a Category 5 storm with “merciless” 160 mph winds Monday night, and the storm, deemed “potentially catastrophic” by the National Hurricane Center, is now headed for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Maria is expected to move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today and is forecast to “remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane” as it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A hurricane warning is in effect Tuesday for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.
Forecasters warned that the storm could leave some parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands uninhabitable for months. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has declared a state of emergency. And President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico to aid with federal assistance.
Puerto Rico sheltered many of the evacuees who fled from other Caribbean Islands during Hurricane Irma earlier this month. Now those evacuees and native Puerto Ricans are bracing for devastation. “This is an event that will be damaging to the infrastructure, that will be catastrophic,” Rosselló said. “Our only focus right now should be to make sure we save lives.”
Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of Dominica, wrote on Facebook that his roof was gone, that his home was flooded and that he was “at the complete mercy of the hurricane” after Maria made landfall Monday night. A few minutes later, the politician reported that he had been rescued.
“Initial reports are of widespread devastation,” Skerrit said in a later post. “So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. 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.”
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