Hurricane Maria devastates Dominica - PM

But that his "greatest fear" is that the people of Dominica will wake to news of "serious physical injury and possible deaths".

The islands that could be struck by the hurricane are now recovering from hurricane Irma, which was one of the most powerful storms in history.

It was expected to be "an extremely risky Category 4 or 5 hurricane" as it bears down on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

A ship located more than 200 miles southwest of the center of Jose recently reported a sustained wind of 40 mph (65 kph), and NOAA Buoy 44014, located east of the Virginia-North Carolina border or about 160 miles west of the center, also reported a sustained wind of 40 mph (65 kph).

He appealed for "help of all kinds" but noted specifically that helicopters will be needed so that authorities can survey the damage. As per the Prime Minister, Maria has destroyed everything money can buy in Dominica.

President Trump has issued an emergency declaration to allow federal assistance for Puerto Rico, which sheltered numerous evacuees from other Caribbean islands who fled Hurricane Irma. U.S. President Donald Trump has declared a state emergency for the area, and the U.S. Coast Guard has responded by positioning their craft and personnel in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Hurricane warnings were posted for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat.

Maria started as a tropical storm over a day ago but wind speeds rapidly ramped up another 90 miles per hour within 27 hours, National Weather Service said.

Skerrit gave an update this morning, writing on Facebook, "Initial reports are of widespread devastation". Homes may have been damaged from Hurricane Irma, leaving residents in the path of Maria particularly vulnerable. Schools, ports and airports have all been closed in the island and other islands nearby.

Hurricane Maria strengthened into a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane at the top of the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale as it swept across the Caribbean on Monday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

It is important to note that Hurricane Maria is now a category 5 and very powerful. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the coast of Rhode Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and it could cause some flooding-but not hurricane conditions-from Long Island to the coast of MA.

"Maria is likely to strengthen significantly, and is expected to be at major hurricane intensity when it affects portions of the Leeward Islands over the next few days, bringing unsafe wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards", a National Hurricane Center spokesperson said.

  • Joey Payne