US ‘stands in solidarity’ with Caribbean following Hurricane Maria’s impact

US ‘stands in solidarity’ with Caribbean following Hurricane Maria’s impact
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington.
Associated Press / Alex Brandon, File

The United States said on Wednesday that it “stands in solidarity with the people of Dominica and all those across the Caribbean region” affected by the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria.

“The United States stands ready to work with you and our international partners to provide immediate disaster relief,” said United States Department of States spokesperson Heather Nauert in a statement.

“We are in the process of coordinating the best possible package of assistance,” she added. “The recent natural disasters underscore our interconnectedness and the importance of strong partnership with the Caribbean.”

Nauert said the Department of State has an ongoing Task Force working to determine the extent of the damages, to coordinate evacuation efforts, and to provide assistance to United States citizens in the affected countries.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Caribbean region,” she said.

Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico in almost a century, ravaged the island on Wednesday, knocking out all electricity, deluging towns with flashfloods and mudslides and compounding the already considerable pain of residents, according to the New York Times.

It said that less than two weeks ago, Hurricane Irma dealt the island “a glancing blow,” killing at least three people and leaving nearly 70 percent of households without power.

Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Puerto Rico at 6 am on Wednesday, as a Category 4 hurricane, took out the island’s entire power grid, and only added to the woes of a commonwealth that has been groaning under the weight of an extended debt and bankruptcy crisis, the Times said.

It said other islands hit by Hurricane Maria before it made landfall on Puerto Rico were still struggling to regroup.

Seven deaths had been confirmed on Dominica, where the hurricane hit Tuesday, and the toll was likely to rise, according to Hartley Henry, an adviser to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

Housing was severely damaged, and all public buildings were being used as shelters, he said.

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