Hurricane Maria's devastating strength leaves island powerless

Hurricane Maria Guadeloupe

As Hurricane Maria hammered Dominica with 160 miles per hour (260 kph) winds Monday, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit hunkered down in his official residence and turned to social media to tell of the storm's fury, each post more dire than the previous.

The island's broadcast service was also down Tuesday and Akamai Technologies, a company that tracks the status of the internet around the world, said most of Dominica's internet service appeared to have been lost by midday.

A former British colony and a member of the Commonwealth, Dominica, with a population of about 72,000, was Maria's first major victim as it blazed a deadly path through the Caribbean on the heels of two other brutal storms, Irma and Jose. "There were large storm surges on the western end of the islands but on the whole we have been lucky".

Fifteen people have been buried in Dominica in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Officials estimated that 70 to 80 percent of Dominica's structures had sustained storm damage, ranging from ripped-off roofs to near-total destruction. "At this very moment we are trying to get details on the extent of the damage and the condition of the other countries in the path of this risky Category 5 storm", according to the CTO's statement. "It was still daylight. and they just figured it would just pass. and then life would be back to normal, but I don't think anybody expected that kind of damage at that time", he said.

The Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica reported a widespread loss of communication on the island, and relatives of students posted messages on its Facebook page saying they had been unable to talk to their loved ones since late Monday evening as the storm approached.

Residents on Puerto Rico are picking up the pieces after their homes were pummelled by Hurricane Maria. Depending on sea conditions, the evacuations could begin on Friday, the department said.

Governor Ricardo Rossello said the hurricane was "the most devastating storm in a century" adding that it could take months to restore power to the island.

Almost 2800 people were in shelters across Puerto Rico, along with 105 pets, officials said.

The damage caused by Hurricane Irma is preventing relief agencies like Hirtac from accessing areas most affected by the storm, including South Caicos, where some areas are nearly totally destroyed.

Every community was affected, he said. The country needs the support and continued help and prayers of all.

Skerrit said family members of another dialysis patient told him that if they don't get him out, he will soon die. "They're made of wood and can't sustain a strong wind", she said.

Mapp said his government will continue to work with federal partners and others on the US mainland and around the world to clean up and reconstruct the USA territory.

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