Hurricane Maria wreaks havoc in Dominica

This Sept. 14, 2017 photo provided by Guillermo Houwer on Saturday, Sept. 16, shows storm damage to the Biras Creek Resort in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. (Guillermo Houwer via AP)

The entire country has been left in a daze

By Michael Derek Roberts

The disarray left behind in Dominica by Hurricane Maria. (Photos: CMC)

With sustained winds reaching speeds of 165MPH and heavy, searing rains interspersed with thunder and lightning Hurricane Maria roared through the Caribbean island of Dominica flattening and manhandling everything in its path. When the frightening ordeal was over seven people were confirmed dead (that number could rise) and the island, with a population of just over 73,000 people, lay in ruins as if someone had strewn garbage all over the place.

It was abundantly clear that the storm showed absolutely no mercy. Two days after Maria left it was clear that the once touted “Caribbean Nature Island,” was no more as the island was littered with destroyed houses, broken power lines and stripped of all vegetation. The one lush rain forrests appear to have vanished. All over the island roofs were torn away, entire homes ripped open and debris littering the land like a bad set of confetti.

The breadth of the destruction is staggering — intact or untouched homes hard to find amid the chaos. “I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating …indeed, mind boggling,” Skerrit posted on his Facebook page. “My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured.”

Maria crossed many Caribbean islands at Category 5 strength, lashing homes, businesses and marinas that had already suffered terribly in Hurricane Irma’s wake. Widespread phone and power outages complicated efforts to truly understand the scope of Maria’s destruction, which includes street flooding, ripped-off roofs and an unknown number of casualties.

The back edge of Maria was still battering the islands yesterday as the storm moved west across Puerto Rico. On the island of Dominica, aerial footage posted by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency showed scattered debris and what appeared to be widespread damage.

“The country is in a daze — no electricity, no running water — as a result of uprooted pipes in most communities and definitely no landline or cellphone services on island, and that will be for quite a while,” Hartley Henry, principal adviser to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said.

“In summary, the island has been devastated. The housing stock significantly damaged or destroyed. All available public buildings are being used as shelters, with very limited roofing materials evident,” he said.

Officials are calling for helicopters to help carry supplies to outlying areas, Henry said, and authorities hoped to clear off runways and ports to allow relief vessels and large aircraft to ferry in emergency aid. At the Ross University School of Medicine, workers there were conserving battery power for their satellite phones and preparing to evacuate the entire campus to neighboring St. Lucia, which escaped damage.

Damaged homes from Hurricane Maria are seen in an aerial photo taken over Dominica. (Reuters)




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