Hurricane Maria is heading toward the Virgin Islands, which were already devastated by Hurricane Irma this month, and Puerto Rico.
Maria has inflicted “widespread devastation” on Dominica, prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit said.
“My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains,” Skerrit posted on Facebook. “So far the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with.”
“I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time because it is devastating ... indeed, mind boggling. My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured,” Skerrit added. “We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds.”
The eye of the storm, which the National Hurricane Center calls “potentially catastrophic,” is expected to pass over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today and approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 160 mph with higher gusts, and although some fluctuation in intensity is expected, the hurricane is expected to strike as “an extremely dangerous” Category 4 or 5 hurricane.
Guadeloupe, which avoided the worst of Hurricane Irma, has been a staging ground for the regional aid response to that storm, according to The New York Times.
It has also been a refuge for people from St. Martin, an island that was hit hard by Irma two weeks ago. So the arrival of Maria could compound the difficulties involved in recovering from the disasters.
Storm surges in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are forecast to be between 6 and 9 feet. Sport fishermen in Puerto Rico have been voyaging to the British Virgin Islands to bring supply food and supplies.