Hurricane Maria slammed into Dominica on Monday night, lashing the Caribbean island as a Category 5 storm with 160-mph winds and a storm surge of up to 11 feet.
Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit made a series of dire Facebook posts as the storm hit the island, calling the winds “merciless” and saying his residence sustained damages.
“We do not know what is happening outside. We not dare look out. All we are hearing is … the sound of the fury of the wind. As we pray for its end!” Skerrit wrote.
“My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding,” the prime minister updated later in the night, before announcing, “I have been rescued.”
“[W]e have lost all what money can buy and replace,” Skerrit wrote early Tuesday. “My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths … So, far the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with. 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.
“We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds,” the prime minister wrote.
Maria was the second catastrophic Category 5 hurricane to strike the region in less than one month. The NHC downgraded Maria to a Category 4 storm early Tuesday with sustained winds of 155 mph.
The eye of Maria was passing over Dominica early Tuesday, on its way toward the Leeward Islands. The National Hurricane Center said Maria would “remain an extremely dangerous hurricane” as it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Maria made landfall on Dominica around 9:15 p.m. local time with estimated winds of 160 mph, radar data from Martinique and Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicated, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Dominica was “shut down” as the storm approached, said Anil Etienne, a spokesperson for Dominica’s Office of Disaster Management.
Etienne told ABC News officials are worried about flooding in low-lying areas and have opened about 146 shelters.
The latest NHC forecast predicts Maria could maintain its strength, possibly running into Puerto Rico as a Category 4 or 5 storm.
Maria is expected to approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday. The storm might make landfall on the eastern side of Puerto Rico and could bring major damage to the U.S. territory late…