“We have many deaths, but it is a miracle that we do not have hundreds of deaths in this country,” Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told ABS television just shortly after hurricane Maria ripped through his country.
Yet with 16 people still missing, the current death toll of 15 in Dominica could rise.
In total, Maria has left 26 dead, and much of Puerto Rico in ruins. With 20 to 30 inches of rain in 24 hours, and winds up to 125 miles per hour, Maria hit Puerto Rico as a category 4 storm – the first storm of that size in 85 years.
For the first time in history, the entire island of Puerto Rico was without power. Telecommunications throughout Puerto Rico have “collapsed” according to Abner Gomez Cortes, executive director of Puerto Rico’s emergency management agency.
And with limited access, restoring power could take some time. According to Ricardo Ramos, director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, many transmission lines sustained damage. Now, inspecting them will require helicopters, as much of the island’s roads are blocked or underwater.
In San Juan, a coastal suburb of Puerto Rico, many residents had retreated to rooftops as flooding overtook the area and left 80 percent of homes damaged. Now with many homes roofs ripped off, walls torn down and 3-4 feet of water, hundreds of people are in shelters.
With winds, rain, and widespread damage, Maria has, according to Hartley Henry, an advisor to Dominica’s prime minister, left his country devastated.
And for the prime minister of Dominica himself, the damage was personal – his own home’s roof was ripped off.
“It’s going to take us a very long time to get back,” Skerrit related.
However, with an urgent appeal for supplies – water, tarps, and baby supplies – the people of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the French Caribbean islands – where as many as 70,00 homes are without electricity and 50,000 do not have access to safe drinking water – are hoping they can rebound quickly. Our thoughts are with them.
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