HURRICANE Maria – recently downgraded to a tropical storm – has wreaked further havoc across the Caribbean islands this week, just days after Hurricane Irma killed more than 50 people and flattened hundreds of homes along the East Coast of the United States (News, 15 September).
Maria made landfall as a category five hurricane in Dominica on Tuesday, bringing heavy rain and winds of 155 mph, and damaging 90 per cent of properties on the island. The storm, downgraded to category three, has since battered several Caribbean islands, including the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, cutting the power supply.
The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, described it as “the most devastating storm in a century” and said that it may take months to fully restore power to the 3.5 million residents on the island. “God is with us; we are stronger than any hurricane. Together we will rise again.”
At least ten people have been killed by the storms, one person by a falling tree, and one man by a board he had used to cover his windows. Flash flood warnings were also in place as Maria made its way further west, heading towards the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday.
The United Nations has launched an action plan requiring $55.8 million to address the urgent needs of more than two million people severely affected by Irma, the strongest hurricane ever reported in the Atlantic, which hit last month.
“Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and Maria, and the massive floods in South Asia are just the most recent demonstration of the urgency of tackling climate change,” the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday.
MINISTRY OF DEFENCEBlessing: the Revd Stuart Rason, 40 Commando Royal Marines’ padre, during the first service at St George’s, on Tortola (British Virgin Islands), since it was hit by Hurricane Irma on 6 September