Sep 21, 2017

Hurricane Maria Live Updates: Puerto Rico Loses Power and Sets a Curfew

Puerto Rico
by
The New York Times
Damaged trees and winds during Hurricane Maria in Guaynabo, P.R., on Wednesday. Photo: Erika P. Rodriguez, The New York Times
Damaged trees and winds during Hurricane Maria in Guaynabo, P.R., on Wednesday. Photo: Erika P. Rodriguez, The New York Times

Updated 2:58 AM, 9/21/17

Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico with a one-two punch of high winds and driving rain before beginning its deliberate march toward the Dominican Republic. Early Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said the storm had regained “major hurricane status,” upgrading it to Category 3.

The center said at 2 a.m. that Maria’s maximum sustained winds had risen to almost 115 miles per hour, and that the storm could get stronger still over the next day or so. It was expected to pass offshore of the Dominican Republic’s northeastern coast early Thursday, before moving near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas on Thursday night and Friday.

Maria had weakened to Category 2 after taking “quite a hit” from the high mountains of Puerto Rico, where at least one death had been reported.

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Here’s the latest:

• The storm made landfall at Yabucoa in Puerto Rico’s southeast shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday, as a Category 4 storm with winds as strong as 155 miles per hour. It had crossed the United States Virgin Islands as a Category 5 storm, then weakened. Its winds were blowing about 110 miles per hour on Wednesday evening.

• Forecasters say Puerto Rico will see about two feet of rain by Friday. Storm surges are expected to raise water levels by as much as six feet in the Dominican Republic.

• Governor Rosselló told CNN late Wednesday that officials knew of only one fatality in Puerto Rico, but noted that they still could not communicate with the southeastern part of the island, which was hit earliest and hardest by the storm. “We still don’t have a lot of information,” he said.

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• Hartley Henry, an adviser to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that there had been seven confirmed deaths from Hurricane Maria on that island. Two people were also killed on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, officials said.

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Flooding is a major concern in Puerto Rico

“This is just the beginning,” Mr. Rosselló said in an interview with El Nuevo Dia, the largest daily newspaper in Puerto Rico. “We know there are severe damages along different rivers and reservoirs, and water has overflowed from riverbanks, causing flooding,” he added.

The island had not seen a Category 4 storm since 1932.

Carlos Anselmi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Puerto Rico, said there had been “record-breaking” amounts of rain, with as much as 35 inches expected in some places. “There have been reports — multiple reports — of coastal flooding along the south, north and east of Puerto Rico,” he said. “We expect this to continue throughout Puerto Rico.”