The storm was on a path that would take it near many of the islands already wrecked by Hurricane Irma and then on toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Maria could hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hurricane Maria intensified into a dangerous Category 5 storm and pounded the small island of Dominica as it surged into the eastern Caribbean on Monday night, and forecasters warned it might become even stronger.
The storm was following a path that could take it on Tuesday near many of the islands recently devastated by Hurricane Irma and then head toward a possible direct strike on Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
Fierce winds and driving rain lashed the mountainous island for hours, causing flooding and tearing roofs from homes.
A series of Facebook posts by Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit captured the fury of the storm as it made landfall.
“The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God,” Skerrit wrote at the start of a series of increasingly harrowing posts.
A few minutes later, he messaged he could hear the sound of galvanized steel roofs tearing off houses on the small rugged island.
He then wrote that he thought his home had been damaged. And three words: “Rough! Rough! Rough!”
A half hour later, he said: “My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.” Seven minutes later he posted that he had been rescued.
Late Monday, a police official, Inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste, said there were no immediate reports of casualties but it was still too dangerous for officers to do a full assessment as the storm raged outside.
“Where we are, we can’t move,” he said in a brief phone interview.
Dominica authorities had closed schools and government offices and urged people to move from dangerous areas to shelters.
“We should treat the approaching hurricane very, very seriously,” the prime minister warned as the storm approached. “This much water in Dominica is dangerous.”
In August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika unleashed flooding and landslides that killed 31 people and destroyed more than 370 homes on the small, mountainous island.
Officials on nearby Guadeloupe said the French island would experience…