He said the islandâs immediate priority was to rescue people who were trapped and provide medical care to the injured. âI am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating â¦ indeed, mind boggling,â Mr. Skerrit said.
He said that he expected the islandâs airports and seaports to be inoperable for a few days. And he asked âfriendly nations and organizationsâ to provide a helicopter so that he could survey the damage.
âWe will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds,â he said.
By early Tuesday morning, phone and internet signals on Dominica appeared to be down, leaving the island virtually incommunicado.
Early reports suggested that the neighboring islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique had not been as badly hit as Dominica, though the authorities there had not yet provided a comprehensive assessment of the damage.
Officials in Guadeloupe, to the north of Dominica, said early assessments indicated that in certain areas, including Les Saintes and southern Basse Terre island, the hurricane caused serious flooding and widespread damage to buildings. Roofs were torn off by the wind, and about 80,000 homes lost power.
Guadeloupe has been a staging ground for the regional aid response to Hurricane Irma, which battered the Caribbean two weeks ago. It has also been a refuge for people from St. Martin, an island hit hard by Hurricane Irma. So the arrival of Maria could compound the difficulties involved in recovering from the disasters.