Hurricane Maria is a Category 5 beast. After the hurricane
raked Guadeloupe and pulverized mountainous Dominica overnight, the storm's
winds and rain neared tiny Montserrat on Tuesday morning on a track to the Virgin
Islands late Tuesday.
In a Facebook post late Monday night, Dominica's Prime
Minister Roosevelt Skerritt described Maria's impact.
"We have lost all that money can buy and replace. My
greatest fear is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and
possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains,"
In a statement on Tuesday morning, Skerrit said, "My
focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the
injured. We need help, my friends, we will need help of all kinds."
Skerrit said that he suspected that the airport and seaport
would be inoperable. "I am eager now to solicit the support of friendly
nations and organizations with helicopter services so I can get around the
country to determine what is needed."
Trinidad and Tobago said it was sending a helicopter to Dominica with Defense Force
St. Kitts and Nevis foreign minister Mark Brantley posted a
video clip on Twitter of trees blowing on tiny Nevis. Brantley said that the
two islands were being pummeled by howling winds and torrential rain.
The core of the storm is forecast to approach the Virgin
Islands and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday. Maria is expected to go
south of St. Thomas, still recovering from Hurricane Irma, and impact St.
Croix, an island that was battered by Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
St. Croix had been serving as a temporary staging area for
relief and recovery for St. Thomas and St. John.
In Puerto Rico, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Monday that Maria
"is an event like we have never seen before. This event will damage our
infrastructure and will be catastrophic. Our only focus right now should be to
Puerto Rico was brushed by Irma but the storm knocked out
electricity to 75% of the island. Nearly 70,000 people still remain without
The government is preparing some 450 shelters, expected to
hold more than 100,000 evacuees, according to Rossello. The massive Puerto Rico
Convention Center in San Juan is one of them. The facility has been operating on generators and solar
power since Irma.
The airport in San Juan will remain open until 7 p.m.
on Tuesday. If
hotel guests check out today but discover that their flights are canceled, the
government urged hotels to let them check in again "to minimize the
possibility of having travelers without lodging arrangements in this
Puerto Rico's tiny islands of Culebra and Vieques off the
island's east coast are in the storm's path, as well.
Maria is then forecast to head toward the north coast of the
Dominican Republic, where a storm surge of six to nine feet will impact the
coast, according to reports on the Weather Channel.