MEXICO CITY — The Caribbean island nation of Dominica sustained “mind boggling” damage from Hurricane Maria, its prime minister said Tuesday, after the storm hit with maximum sustained winds of nearly 160 miles per hour that ripped roofs off buildings, including his own home.
There was no immediate word of deaths or injuries on the island from the storm, the third in a string of devastating hurricanes to sweep through the region in recent weeks.
The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning that Maria, now moving away from Dominica, had regained Category 5 strength, after briefly dropping to Category 4. The “potentially catastrophic” storm is expected to approach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, the center said.
“So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace,” he said. “My greatest fear for the morning 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 his Facebook account, Mr. Skerrit said, “The winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with.” On Monday night, he said, he had to be rescued after the storm tore the roof off his official residence.
He said the island’s immediate priority was to rescue people who were trapped and provide medical care to the injured. “I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating … indeed, mind boggling,” Mr. Skerrit said.
He said that he expected the island’s airports and seaports to be inoperable for a few days. And he asked “friendly nations and organizations” to provide a helicopter so that he could survey the damage.
“We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds,” he said.
By early Tuesday morning, phone and internet signals on Dominica appeared to be down, leaving the island virtually incommunicado.