ROSEAU, Dominica – The effects of Hurricane Maria are responsible for at least 30 deaths on this small Caribbean island, Dominica’s DBS radio said Friday.
Half of the fatalities were in Pointe Michel, south of the capital city of Roseau, DBS reported, citing accounts from first responders and residents.
Maria, a Category 5 storm with winds of 260 kph (160 mph), struck on Monday, flattening homes and destroying vital infrastructure across Dominica, a nation of roughly 72,000 residents that lies near the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique.
A resident of Pointe Michel said in a telephone call to DBS that 90 percent of the tile roofs in the town had been lost in the storm.
Four storm victims have already been laid to rest and a funeral is scheduled next Tuesday for a family of seven who died in flooding, the caller told DBS.
In Dominica, EFE witnessed scenes of devastation reminiscent of a war zone, with once-green valleys and hillsides turned brown and forests reduced to stumps.
Some parts of Roseau remained inaccessible Friday as authorities concentrated on clearing the road linking the capital with Douglas Charles Airport.
“The disaster is total,” Dominica’s Irwin La Rocque, the secretary-general of the Caribbean Community, told reporters, adding that based on the aerial photos he saw, every town and village suffered damage.
The United Kingdom has dispatched aid to Dominica, which is a member of the Commonwealth, and the US Navy amphibious ship USS Wasp arrived Friday off the coast of the island with two SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters aboard.
The Wasp’s mission is to “support US State Department assistance to US citizens in Dominica, as well as US foreign disaster assistance requested by Caribbean nations impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and led by the US Agency for International Development (USAID),” the US Southern Command said in a statement.
“The airlift and transport capabilities of amphibious ships make them uniquely suited to support the delivery and distribution of much-needed relief supplies, as well as transport humanitarian assistance personnel,” the statement added.