Hurricane Maria Update: Fatalities Confirmed in Dominica, Says Prime Minister

Satellite photo of Hurricane Maria's position as of Wednesday morning. // Photo by the National Hurricane Center

In statement obtained by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit confirmed that seven people have died after Hurricane Maria passed through the country on Monday night through Tuesday. 

“It's difficult to determine the level of fatalities,” he said to the CTO on a satellite phone around 4:30 a.m. this morning, “but so far seven are confirmed, as a direct result of the hurricane.”

Skerrit, however, noted he fears that number will rise as he makes his way into the rural communities on Wednesday.

“Tremendous loss of housing and public buildings,” he said. “The main general hospital took a beating. Patient care has been compromised. Many buildings serving as shelters lost roofs, which means that a very urgent need now is tarpaulins and other roofing materials.”

Skerrit said that although little contact has been made with other communities, some people walked 10-15 miles toward the city of Roseau reported destruction of homes, some roadways and crops. Skerrit also stressed the urgent need for helicopters to take food, water and tarpaulins to outer districts for shelter. 

“The urgent needs now are roofing materials for shelters, bedding supplies for hundreds stranded in or outside what's left of their homes and food and water drops for residents of outlying districts inaccessible at the moment,” said Skerrit.

He said he expects Canefield Airport to accommodate helicopter landings today, nothing that the waters around the main Roseau port will be calm enough to accommodate vessels bringing relief supplies and other forms of assistance. Skerrit also said the tarmac at Douglas–Charles Airport, formerly known as Melville Hall Airport, was not too badly damaged so the strip should be opened in a day or two for larger relief planes to land.

“The country is in a daze,” he said. “No electricity, no running water, as a result of uprooted pipes in most communities and definitely to landline or cellphone services on island, and that will be for quite a while.

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

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico this morning, and although it has weakened slightly it remains an extremely powerful category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds near 150 mph, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.

The storm made landfall in Puerto Rico’s eastern region, in Humacao, and is expected to track across the island before emerging off the northern coast this afternoon, maintaining category 4 strength and bringing high winds, dangerous storm surge and flooding to the area. The center of the storm will then pass just north of the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic tonight and Thursday.

A hurricane warning remains in effect for Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques; the U.S. Virgin Islands; the The British Virgin Islands; the Dominican Republic in an area ranging from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata; the Turks and Caicos; and the southeastern Bahamas.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Saba; St. Maarten/St. Martin, and St. Barts; the Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border with Haiti; and the Dominican Republic west of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque. A hurricane watch is in effect for St. Maarten and the Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano.

For all flight updates, click here and keep visiting for more Hurricane Maria updates. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260

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