Islands in the eastern Caribbean are waiting anxiously for the arrival of Hurricane Maria, which today strengthened to Category 5, with winds reaching 160 mph.
On Monday night, the hurricane hit Dominica where local radio station DBS described the situation as “very bad”, with extremely high winds and heavy rain. Its path is predicted to pass over or close to Guadeloupe, Martinique and Antigua, whose sister island Barbuda was cleared of its population after being wrecked by Irma. Montserrat, St Kitts and possibly the Bahamas may also be affected.
Storm wreckage left by Hurricane Irma is still being cleared in the British Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, the French/Dutch territory of Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten and the Turks and Caicos Islands, as well as the US state of Florida. Local authorities have warned residents to remove as much loose debris as possible, to avoid it being caught by the wind and causing further damage.
Ports, airports, schools and other public buildings in the region have been closed and the islands’ populations told to take shelter.
More than 1,300 troops are in the region and HMS Ocean is due to arrive in the next few days with 60 tons of supplies, but the worry is that the emergency responders’ work will be doubled by the new storm. In the aftermath of Irma, shortages of food and water are continuing, and many homes remain without power.