SAN JUAN – The islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica are the ones that have suffered the worst effects – in the form of serious damage to infrastructure – so far from Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that is passing westward through the Caribbean.
Local media report preliminarily that the strongest winds – near 160 miles per hour – and torrential rains have caused flooding, destroyed electricity supply networks and assorted infrastructure, although this information will no doubt be expanded in the coming hours.
Dominican Prime Minister Rooselvelt Skerrit is the leader with the most – albeit anecdotal and preliminary – data at hand showing that many residents have lost everything amid the “widespread devastation,” although he has not yet offered more concrete details on his nation of 72,000, saying only that a more precise idea of the effects of the powerful storm on his small Caribbean territory will only become available in the coming hours and days.
He did say, however, that virtually everyone he had talked to regarding the storm told him the roofs had been ripped off their homes, and he added that his own house had flooded, calling upon “friendly nations” to provide aid “of all kinds” to his country.
Regarding Martinique, regional media report that reconnaissance and damage assessment operations should commence in the coming hours after the passage of the hurricane over the French territory.
According to the scanty information available so far, the storm has left at least 50,000 homes on Martinique without electricity and 10,000 without potable water.
The news coming from Guadeloupe, also a French territory, is that the heavy rain and winds caused serious flooding, knocked down uncounted trees and damaged much of the island’s infrastructure, although further details will have to await an organized damage assessment.
According to local media, Maria did not strike the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis with the same intensity, although the only formal report comes from their foreign minister, Mark Brantley, who said that the small territory had suffered a traumatic – but as yet unquantified – blow.
Hurricane Maria is moving northwestwards toward the island of Montserrat, a British overseas territory, where local authorities have asked residents to take maximum safety precautions.
The little hard information available so far provides no reports of possible deaths or other casualties.
The most heavily populated territory lying the Maria’s path is Puerto Rico, which will feel the direct effects of the storm starting around midday on Wednesday, and local authorities there have called upon the public to exercise the maximum caution.
The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday said that Maria is a “potentially catastrophic” storm.
Before Maria swept into the region, Caribbean residents were just starting to recover from the devastation and disruption brought by Hurricane Irma two weeks ago.