Updated: Puerto Rico completely without power after Maria thrashes the island
- Puerto Rico is completely without power after Category 4 Hurricane Maria made landfall with winds of 155 mph — barely shy of Category 5 status, BBC reports.
- Maria is the first Category 4 storm to directly strike Puerto Rico in almost a century, and comes on the heels of a glancing blow from Hurricane Irma earlier this month, which left more than 1 million residents without power and exposed the island's delicate electric grid.
- Abner Gómez, executive director of Puerto Rico's emergency management agency, said the island's electric system was already beginning to fail though the worst of the storm had not yet struck, The Washington Post reported.
The entire island of Puerto Rico is without power after Hurricane Maria thrashed the island Wednesday.
Puerto Rico's electric utility already tweeted in the morning that sectors of the country were without service. The direct hit from a fierce storm comes just weeks after 70% of the island's population lost power in Hurricane Irma.
According to news reports, the island is without power and water. And the Associated Press reported almost 1 million lost power in advance of the storm's landing. The Post also reported Puerto Rico’s weather radar had failed as the storm came ashore, complicating efforts to monitor the weather system.
"Definitely Puerto Rico — when we can get outside — we will find our island destroyed," said Abner Gomez, Puerto Rico's emergency management director, said at a midday press conference. "The information we have received is not encouraging. It's a system that has destroyed everything it has had in its path."
Earlier this month, Hurricane Irma devastated the southwest coast of Florida, leaving millions in the dark. Recovery efforts continue and are expected to be completed this week. Almost three-quarters of Puerto Rico's population lost power in that storm, exposing issues with power grid infrastructure neglected for years. The island's sole electricity provider, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, narrowly escaped defaulting on a $415 million bond payment in July.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello told PBS, however, that solvency issues had no impact on storm preparations for the island. Hurricane Maria is expected to ravage Puerto Rico all day, gradually moving north, but will miss the eastern coast of the United States.
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