Maria rips through the Caribbean, Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands up next

21 September, 2017, 00:44 | Author: Garry Little
  • Hurricane Maria path map Latest map shows path

Hurricane Maria began battering Puerto Rico Wednesday, tearing off roofs and sending doors flying off their hinges.

As of 11 a.m. ET on Monday (Sept. 18), Hurricane Maria, which rapidly strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 120 mph (195 km/h), was just a few hours from numerous Caribbean islands that were heavily damaged during Hurricane Irma, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The US National Hurricane Center warned of "large and destructive waves" as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/GETTY Trees are toppled in a parking lot at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on September 20, 2017, during the passage of the Hurricane Maria.

Hurricane Maria has intensified into an extremely risky Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson wind scale and is expected to strengthen further, the US National Hurricane Centre says.

Storm surge as high as nine feet was expected in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and as high as 11 feet in the Leeward Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Even as Miami can rest easier knowing the latest tracks show Maria curving out to sea by this weekend, a city with deep ties to San Juan is on edge as the Category 4 storm makes a dead-eye hit on the US territory.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday night to say, "Be careful, our hearts are with you".

"Puerto Rico is hours away from being hit by Hurricane Maria, which the experts at the National Weather Service are describing as catastrophic".

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In Puerto Rico - which was largely spared the worst of Hurricane Irma's wrath earlier this month - officials prepared for an outright calamity, urging residents to seek shelter before the storm makes landfall Wednesday.

"We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds", he said.

France on Tuesday reported that there was no major damage on the island of Martinique, another French department, although 50-thousand homes lost power and ten thousand were without water.

He expects the entire island to lose power and be in a blackout for days. Earlier this week Maria devastated the tiny nation of Dominica, prompting the prime minister to report on Facebook, "Initial reports are of widespread devastation".

"Without electricity, communications for a while with our family so that I worry about but I want to tell my family that I'll be OK", said Hernandez.

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