Below is an address by Disaster Risk Consultant Cecil Shillingford as Hurricane Maria approaches Dominica.
Hurricane Maria is now a Category One hurricane located 13.8 North, 57.5 West or 275 miles East-South-East of Dominica.
The movement is West-North-west at 15 miles per hour. As such, Dominica was placed under hurricane warning as of eleven o’ clock today, Sunday.
Maria was upgraded to hurricane status as of 5:00 pm this evening so we were already under a hurricane warning before it was even declared a hurricane.
The center of the hurricane is expected to move near Dominica Monday evening and as such we are asking that all shelters open immediately so that people can begin to move into shelters if they need shelter.
There are some areas where people can move into the shelters early tomorrow morning, but we should see a deterioration in weather conditions by tonight, early tomorrow morning.
Activities associated with Maria should commence by early Monday morning, and that is at about 4:00 am with center expected between 2:00 pm Monday afternoon to 2:00 am Tuesday morning.
When it passes close to Dominica it will be a Category two hurricane of 100 miles per hour.
We would like all people living in vulnerable areas, and that could be the waterfront coastal communities, anybody living close to rivers, ravines or waterways to monitor activities and take a decision early if you need to move. We are talking about areas like Coulibistrie, Colihaut, Dublanc, Bioche, Pichlen, Paradise Valley, Bath Estate, Calibishie which is a very low-lying area on the east coast, Campbell, and we are not actually asking people to move out of these communities, what we are saying is to monitor the situation if you live close to a ravine, of course monitor the height and at some time make a decision early to move into a safe area. It could be a public shelter, it could be friends and family, whatever is the best option you want to use.
We would like to call on the Amateur Radio Club to be on alert and provide whatever communications assistance that may be required.
We would like to call on all nationals to fill whatever utensils you have with water because after a hurricane you usually need a lot of water for sanitation purposes, but ensure that you get some basic food items and water so that you can go through at least two days before you can either get to a relief center, supermarket or whatever the case may be.
For those of you who rely heavily on electricity, if we are going to get a direct at some point, the electricity will turn off just for precaution and also at some stage DOWASCO would want to shut down the water to ensure that there is not a lot of siltation into their water system. It would be very easy after the fact to provide us with water again, so they will have to shut it down ahead of the system.
If you need assistance anytime during that period, you can call the E911 system which is located at the Police Head Quarters, there is the police 448-2222, there is the Fire Emergency line 448-2889.
The ODM will be activated and the numbers there are 488-7777, and there is another number which is 448-4164. These can be used as emergency numbers should you need to call anybody at anytime for some sort of assistance.