On 18 September, Hurricane Maria evolved from a category 1 storm to a category 5 storm in less than 18 hours, just before it slammed the Caribbean island of Dominica (Source: NASA). It thrashed the country with extreme winds and rain and destroyed all in its path. At the time of landfall, sustained winds, which were reported to be 260 km/h, affected the entire population.
This is the fifth time on record that Dominica has taken a direct hit from a hurricane, but never has it faced a storm of such ferocity and strength. The hurricane brought life in Dominica to a standstill.
Hurricane Maria caused widespread damage and destruction in Dominica, one of the poorest countries in the Eastern Caribbean. On 25 September, the UN estimated that the entire population suffered direct damage to housing and livelihoods.
Food and water are the most urgent needs. People lack access to fresh running water due to damaged pipes in many parts of the country. The hurricane also caused widespread damage to the power grid, leaving the entire country without electricity.
Communication towers on hilltops were snapped in two, causing an island-wide communications blackout. The cellular network has since been unreliable throughout the country. The majority of the roads are blocked with debris and many of the bridges are damaged.