As Hurricane Maria bore down on Dominica on Monday evening, some of the most revealing updates about the storm’s havoc came in the succinct, prayerful Facebook posts of Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of the tiny Caribbean island nation.
Earlier in the day, Skerrit had warned residents that the looming hurricane would be one of the most dangerous storms to pass over Dominica and ordered schools and nonessential government services to close; he urged private businesses to do the same.
By Monday evening, Skerrit was feeling firsthand Maria’s “merciless” 160-mph winds and relentless rain.
“We do not know what is happening outside. We not dare look out. All we are hearing is the sound of galvanize flying. The sound of the fury of the wind. As we pray for its end!” Skerrit wrote shortly after 8 p.m. Monday.
By 9:20 p.m., there was no question about whether his home had been affected by the storm: Its roof had been torn off.
“I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane,” Skerrit wrote. “House is flooding.”
Though he said he was rescued a short while later, Skerrit’s posts prompted others to wonder: If the storm had so devastated the prime minister’s home, what of the others on the island? A handful of videos from Dominica posted to social media — before many people there apparently lost cell service — showed roaring wind and rain battering the island in the dark of night.
Just after 1 a.m. Tuesday, initial reports trickled in through Skerrit once again — and they didn’t look good for Dominica.
“So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace,” the prime minister wrote. “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.”
The winds, he said, had swept away the roofs of nearly every person he had contacted; his own roof reportedly had been one of the first to go. Skerrit described the physical damage as “devastating … indeed, mind boggling.”