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'We have lost all that money can buy,' says Dominica leader after Hurricane Maria batters Caribbean

  • On Monday evening and in the early hours of Tuesday, Skerrit posted live updates on social media as his own roof was torn from his home, saying he was "at the complete mercy of the hurricane."
  • Maria is estimated to be moving along a similar track to that of Irma – the hurricane that devastated the same region earlier this month.

Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit used Facebook in the early hours of Tuesday morning to describe the "mind-boggling" real-time impact of Hurricane Maria.

"We have lost all that money can buy," he said at around 01:24 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

"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 said, shortly after providing details of his own rescue.

On Monday evening and in the early hours of Tuesday, Skerrit posted live updates on social media as his own roof was torn from his home, saying he was "at the complete mercy of the hurricane."

'Extremely dangerous'

Maria is estimated to be moving along a similar track to that of Irma – the hurricane that devastated the same region earlier this month.

It currently has maximum sustained winds of around 160 miles per hour and while it was temporarily downgraded to a Category 4 storm by forecasters Tuesday morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said it had since regained Category 5 strength as it approached the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"Maria is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous Category 4 or 5 hurricane while it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico," the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday morning.

Dominica, a heavily forested former British colony home to 72,000 people, lies in the eastern Caribbean about halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe, to the north, and Martinique, to the south.

"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 said, before calling on the international community to come to his country's aid.

"We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds," he added.

Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria

In 2014, 31 people were killed and more than 360 homes were destroyed in Dominica by Tropical Storm Erika. Skerrit said at the time that the devastation caused could set the country back decades.

Maria marks the 13th named Atlantic storm of the year, the seventh hurricane so far this season and the fourth major hurricane — defined as Category 3 or higher — following Harvey, Irma and Jose, the NHC said. Those numbers are all slightly above average for a typical season, which is only about half the way through for 2017.

— Reuters contributed to this report.