A second major hurricane has pummeled Puerto Rico in the month of September, leaving the entire island of 3.4 million people without power and at risk from dangerous flooding.
Hurricane Maria passed directly over the island between Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing with it winds of up to 155 miles per hour and storm surges of more than four feet in some portions of the island. The hurricane also dropped more than 20 inches of rain, turning streets into rivers and flooding entire communities.
Hurricane Maria is the third-strongest hurricane to land on American soil in recorded history, and the first Category 4 to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years. The pressure of the hurricane was stronger than Hurricane Irma, which had sideswiped the island only two weeks ago with comparatively minimal damage, although Irma caused widespread power outages that affected more than 1 million residents.
Unlike Hurricane Irma, the eye of Maria passed directly over the island, coming within miles of the territory’s capital of San Juan. Wind speeds were so great, they broke two National Weather Service radars, according to CNN.
Although there were no reports of death or injury caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, according to The Globe and Mail, Puerto Rico’s emergency management director Abner Gomez said the island was certain to be destroyed after the hurricane.
“The information we have received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything in its path,” he said.
Residents and tourists in Puerto Rico reported water towers carried away by the wind, cars half-flooded and floating in the streets, fallen cell towers, and roofs torn off buildings, according to ABC7.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello imposed a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew through Saturday in order to allow rescue crews and workers to complete repairs and recovery in the aftermath of the hurricane. Rossello also asked President Donald Trump to declare the island a “disaster zone,” which would make it eligible for federal aid.
Authorities reported that more than 11,000 people and close to 600 pets are currently staying in public shelters on the island.
The island territory was already suffering from neglected and decaying infrastructure before the hurricane hit, in part due to a massive $74 billion public debt that has left the Puerto Rican government in dire straits, according to the Washington Post.
Other Caribbean islands also reported widespread devastation in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas saw homes and trees flattened. The island of Dominica was also flattened, and seven deaths were attributed to the hurricane, according to CNN.
[Featured Image by Carlos Giusti/AP Images]