Category 5 hit the tiny island head on

The Commonwealth of Dominica is known among divers and hikers, but is one of the lesser visited Leeward Islands. Mostly volcanic, the island has become a more popular stop for cruise ships in recent years. 

While sometimes confused with the Dominican Republic, Dominica is a separate island, located between the French Islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, and  just north of St. Lucia and to the north-west of Barbados..

Sept 19th, 2017 : The governor of Dominica says Hurricane Maria resulted in “mind boggling” damage to the Caribbean island and is begging friendly nations for immediate aid after the Category 5 storm ravaged the country Monday.

“So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace,” Roosevelt Skerrit wrote early Tuesday in a Facebook update. “We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds.”

The air and seaports of the Dominica island are expected to be inoperable for several days. Skerritt says the roof of the governor’s residence was one of the first to be ripped away, while Hurricane Maria may have also caused a cascading number of roofs to be removed from Dominica residents’ homes.

Hurricane Maria turns Dominica into 'giant debris field'

Skerritt, who gave regular updates during the height of Hurricane Maria, had to be rescued at 9:30 p.m. ET Monday; 90 minutes prior to that, he wrote, “The winds are merciless! We shall survive by the grace of God!”   

Dominica, in fact, was the first Caribbean island nation to feel Hurricane Maria’s Category 5, 160-mph winds. The storm killed 27 people there and 50 others are still missing. It also blew the roof off the home of Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit. He says that was just the start of the massive devastation on one of the Caribbean’s most naturally beautiful islands. 

“More than 45 percent of our country is rainforests, protected national parks," Skerrit told WLRN. "That has been decimated, battered and destroyed. You know, it’s no different from what you see in a complete war zone. Similar to what you see in Iraq. Buildings crumbling. Dark and very depressing.” 

Our master plan entails sustainable livelihoods

In Miami after visiting Washington, Skerrit said Dominica’s plan now is to rebuild as what he calls a “climate-resilient nation.” 

He sees it as a model for adapting to climate change and the stronger storms it may be spawning. “What we’re doing is take an opportunity to build back better," Skerrit said. "And we’re now putting the master plan in place. It entails sustainable livelihoods. In respect to energy, moving more into renewables – geothermal, solar. 

And we’ll certainly be looking at the construction codes in the state of Florida, for example.” Skerrit estimates Dominica’s hurricane damage at $2 billion – twice the country’s GDP. 

2B$ USD to rebuild - 2x the nation's gdp