Hurricane Maria leaves trail of destruction
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP):
Rescuers fanned out to reach stunned victims on Thursday after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, knocking out electricity to the entire island and triggering landslides and floods.
The extent of the damage is unknown, given that dozens of municipalities remained isolated and without communication after Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 155mph winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years.
Uprooted trees and widespread flooding blocked many highways and streets across the island, creating a maze that forced drivers to go against traffic and past police cars that used loudspeakers to warn people that they must respect a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed by the governor to ensure everyone's safety. People resorted to rafts and kayaks to get around because flooding made many roads impassable.
"This is going to be a historic event for Puerto Rico," said Abner Gomez, the island's emergency management director.
President Donald Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for Puerto Rico.
Maria has caused at least 10 deaths across the Caribbean, including seven in the hard-hit island of Dominica and two in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe. Puerto Rico's governor told CNN one man died after being hit by flying debris. No further details were available, and officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Dominica Tourism Minister Robert Tonge described his badly damaged country three days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in the eastern Caribbean island. An update from him said the capital of Roseau still had severe flooding and there was heavy damage throughout the city. The hospital and a community centre both lost roofs.
One of two airports serving the country was inoperable, while the other was expected to be operational in the coming days. An estimated 95 per cent of the roofs were blown off in some towns, including Mahaut and Portsmouth.
Puerto Rico's electric grid was crumbling amid lack of maintenance and a dwindling staff even before the hurricanes knocked out power. Many now believe it will take weeks, if not months, to restore power.