On Monday September 18, in the dead of night, Maria, a category five hurricane bore down on the island of Dominica and lashed it for hours. Torrential rain and 160mph gusts tore off roofs, smashed through walls, uprooted trees and lifted roads. Communication towers snapped in two, schools were flattened and electricity cut. Nothing was spared.
In the few short hours between sundown and sunrise, the 29-mile by 16-mile “Nature Island” – which boasted dozens of waterfalls, rainforests, nine active volcanoes and 365 rivers – was reduced to rubble, lurching from tropical paradise with a burgeoning eco-tourism sector to abject poverty and ruin in a single night.