Hurricane Maria roared over the small nation of Dominica late Monday as a monster Category 5 storm, causing “mind boggling” devastation, according to the country’s prime minister.
Maria, the second major storm of the month, slammed into Dominica with potentially catastrophic winds of nearly 260 km/h, ripping roofs off homes on the island of about 73,000 people.
“Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace,” Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit wrote in an emotional Facebook statement.
Hurricane Maria has intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale and is expected to strengthen further, the US National Hurricane Centre says.
Hurricane Maria is now about 55 kilometres northeast of Martinique, with maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometres per hour, the Miami-based weather forecaster said on Monday.
In what seems to be an endless procession of major hurricanes this summer, Hurricane Maria strengthened overnight to a Category 3 storm and is expected to strengthen further as it makes its way straight toward Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
Maria’s winds are howling at a maximum speed of 120 mph, with even higher gusts.
It is expected to be a Category 4 hurricane by the time it makes landfall at Puerto Rico Wednesday morning.
Caribbean Airlines is advising that due to the closure of the George F.L. Charles International Airport, St. Lucia, and strong storm force winds in Barbados due to Hurricane Maria, the following flights for 18 September, 2017 are cancelled:
BW 434 Port of Spain to St. Lucia
BW 435 St. Lucia to Port of Spain
BW 412 Port of Spain to Barbados
BW 413 Barbados to Port of Spain
BW 459 Kingston to Antigua
Caribbean Airlines says it will send another aircraft to help in the relief efforts of those affected by Hurricane Irma.
CAL will send an aircraft to St Maarten on Saturday to evacuate CARICOM and T&T nationals and also to deliver relief supplies.
The airline issued the following statement on Friday.
"Caribbean Airlines extends our deepest concern and empathy to those affected by the hurricanes in the region.
A Trinidad and Tobago national is among those killed by Hurricane Irma in St Maarten.
She has been identified as Milan Salvary.
A statement by the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs confirmed the death this afternoon.
A number of foreign dignitaries are set to visit the Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander visited Sint Maarten on Monday and is scheduled to fly to two other smaller Dutch islands on Tuesday.
French President Emmanuel Macron is also due to arrive on Saint Martin on Tuesday and the presidential plane will carry essential goods and materials.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Monday that local authorities will draw up evacuation lists for residents who want to to leave Saint Martin.
The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) says that the Government under the co-ordination of the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs and the Ministry of National Security has been working to evacuate Trinidad and Tobago nationals from St Maarten and the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
A statement by the OPM said the Government in conjunction with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the National Helicopter Services Limited has made arrangements to attempt to airlift Trinidad and Tobago nationals, who have provided their information, from St Maarten today.
Digicel (Trinidad & Tobago) has sent a 210-foot barge with supplies to send to countries severely affected by Hurricane Irma.
In a statement issued Monday morning, Digicel said that with the damage to the islands being described as “unprecedented”, a massive barge scheduled to set sail for the islands of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands on Sunday night was filled with network equipment, basic food and household item - as well first aid kits - and is expected to reach the islands in three to four days.
Carib has announced that all proceeds from its bar sales at the final of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) tonight, will go to Hurricane Relief efforts.
The Trinbago Knight Riders face the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in tonight's final at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba from 9pm.
Carib said in a statement that this is part of a bigger initiative by Carib Brewery across the region in support of those in the Caribbean affected by the devastating storms.