In a statement obtained by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on initial reports indicate “widespread devastation” in his country following the passage of Hurricane Maria.
“So far, we have lost all what money can buy and replace,” said Skerrit. “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.”
The eye of Hurricane Maria passed over the Commonwealth of Dominica last night and into the early hours of this morning.
“We at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) are heartbroken over the hurt that Hurricane Maria has inflicted on Dominica. At this very moment we are trying to get details on the extent of the damage and the condition of the other countries in the path of this dangerous Category 5 storm,” according to the CTO’s statement.
Skerrit says the infrastructure damage to tourism products is too early to fully assess, but noted that both the airport and seaports are expected to be shut down for at least a few days.
“It is too early to speak of the condition of the air and seaports, but I suspect both will be inoperable for a few days,” said Skerrit. “That is why I am eager now to solicit the support of friendly nations and organizations with helicopter services, for I personally am eager to get up and get around the country to see and determine what's needed.”
Skerrit stressed, however, that physical damage is not his top priority at the moment.
“Come tomorrow morning we will hit the road, as soon as the 'all clear' is given, in search of the injured and those trapped in the rubble,” said Skerrit. “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 the storm blew off the roof of his home, as well as the roofs of the homes of just about every person he spoke to in the early stages of the damage assessment.
“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,” said Skerrit.
This morning, the government of Trinidad and Tobago announced it would offer assistance to Dominica, according to the CTO. As soon as it is safe, it is expected that a National Helicopter Services Limited helicopter will be sent to Dominica with Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force personnel, according to the CTO.
With the Virgin Islands still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria is now set to impact the destination as a powerful category four or five storm.
According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Maria currently has maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, making it a Category 5, and the storm is forecast to remain an extremely dangerous Category 4 or 5 storm as it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico tonight and Wednesday.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Guadeloupe; Dominica; St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat; the U.S. Virgin Islands, the The British Virgin Islands; and Puerto Rico (Culebra and Vieques). A tropical storm warning is in effect for Antigua and Barbuda; Saba and St. Eustaius; St. Maarten; Anguilla; and Martinique.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Saba and St. Eustatius; St. Maarten/St. Martin; St. Barts and Anguilla; and an area ranging from Isla Saona to Puerto Plata. A tropical storm watch is also in effect for an area west of Puerto Plata to the northern Dominican Republic – Haiti border.
St. Lucia, however, seems to have gotten lucky as Hurricane Maria was first downgraded to a tropical storm for that destination and then eventually the tropical storm warning was discontinued for the island, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Our prayers are with all those who are in harm's way, some of whom were impacted by Hurricane Irma less than two weeks ago,” said the CTO. “We will immediately begin to assist with sourcing and raising funds, relief suppliers and shelter. We will also help to manage the vital communications process. We are attempting to assess the most urgent needs and to tackle those first.”
For all flight updates, click here and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for more Hurricane Maria updates. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260