Cuba Reports on Hurricane Maria, Dominica PM Pleas for Help

Cuba Reports on Hurricane Maria, Dominica PM Pleas for Help”

Roosevelt Skerrit pleaded for help in an emotional Facebook post early Tuesday morning, after mentioning his own rescue from his flooded, now-roofless home.

Maria's path is similar to Hurricane Irma's, but Dominica and Guadeloupe avoided a direct hit from Irma earlier this month.

Maria weakened briefly into a Category 4 storm, but regained strength as a Category 5 after the 5 a.m. advisory around 5:10 a.m. He said his initial focus will be to rescue trapped people and secure medical aid for the injured.

He appealed for "help of all kinds" but noted specifically that helicopters will be needed so that authorities can survey the damage.

All ports and airports have been closed in the area and any residents near the coast have been ordered to go to authorized shelters. He said "we have lost all what money can buy and replace" and said he feared landslides likely triggered by persistent rains may have resulted in deaths.

It is a message that could be echoed across the Caribbean as many small islands deal with the one-two punch of Hurricane Irma and now Maria. 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.

Also in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose is producing risky surf and rip currents along the East Coast of the United States.

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This is due, the center said, to an area of high pressure that will move around the hurricane over the next several days. Then, there's the lone model taking the storm through The Bahamas before making another Florida landfall.

The maximum wind speed of Hurricane Maria is about 260 kilometers per hour (160 miles per hour) or about 70 meters per second. Skerrit said at the time that the devastation caused could set the country back decades.

As of the National Hurricane Center's update at 2:00 a.m. AST, Monday evening, Hurricane Maria's intensity had decreased slightly to a category 4 hurricane, but more fluctuations are expected in the coming days and it is expected to remain "an extremely unsafe category 4 or 5 hurricane while it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico".

The storm will also affect parts of the Leeward Islands and the British and US Virgin Islands for next couple of days.

Carl Barnes, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, said it's too early to pin down how Maria will affect the SC coast, but the forecast tracks look much better than Irma at this point. Remaining over warm water allowed Jose to strengthen back into a hurricane on September 15 as wind shear across the storm diminished.

It is important to note that Hurricane Maria is now a category 5 and very powerful.

Forecasters say potentially catastrophic Hurricane Maria is heading toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

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