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October 2, 2017

Images coming out of the island of Dominica, the first island to be slammed by the fullbrute force of category-five Hurrican Maria on Spetember 18, 2017, are hard to put into words. "Eden is broken," declared Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who was also pointed out to a UN audience that Dominica, an island with a population of (73,000) already diminished by previous disasters, had paid the ultimate price for climate change. The islanders were barely prepared for this disaster, as Maria catapulted from a category 1 storm to a category 5 monster, packing an unprecedented 175 mph winds, in just half a day. Witnesses say that the island, known for its vibrancy, verdure, and culture, has been reduced to "one giant field," with at least 80 percent of the buildings destroyed or severely damaged. With bodies still under the rubble, the current death toll of 33 is expected to rise as search and rescue operations continue into the remote villages. Not a single street island-wide was spared the fury of Maria's winds, wchi islanders descrived as  the sound of a "demented animal."

Maria was the second majot hurricane to crash into the Eastern Caribbean region in less than two weeks. With Barbuda (of the twin island-nation, Antigua-Barbuda) now a pile of "rubble," CNN headlines announced that "[f]or [the] first time in 300 years, no one is living on Barbuda," after another category 5 storm, Hurrican Irma, completely wiped out the tiny island's life-sustaining infrastructure. The island was previously home to 2,000 people, who have been evacuated and re-settled in the man island of Antigua. With near-total devastation and without the capacity of other islands administratively linkedi n larger, resource-rich territorial entities, the sovereign island-nations of Dominica and Antigua-Barbuda have been among the very worst casualties of recent hurricane history in the region. But they are not alone in their suffering. The Dutch/French island if St. Maarten/St. Martin, the Birtish Virgin Islands, and the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, whose unimaginable, and visceral desperation is now being played out on US television, have all endured the historic, life-altering impact of these catastrophic storms. Mainland USA has also experienced the wrath of two of this season's worst: Hurricane Harvey, whise territorial rains submerged Houston in lingering floodwaters, and Hurricane Irma, which slammed into Florida, causing major destruction.