Puerto Rico’s energy grid took such a severe blow from deadly Hurricane Maria that restoring power to everyone may take months.
The entire system is down. No one on the island has power from utilities.
Puerto Rico’s governor said: “The power grid is a little bit old, mishandled and weak. It depends on the damage to the infrastruacture. I’m afraid it’s probably going to be severe. If it is … we’re looking at months as opposed to weeks or days.”
The impact of the storm on the island territory won’t be realized until officials can do a flyover and see what remains.
Rosselló said officials think some power stations are not badly damaged, but the distribution system is ruined.
At least one person died in the storm when a board was ripped from the house it had been nailed to by the wind and hit a man. But the number of casualties in some areas is unknown because it is hard to communicate.
The governor adds: “We still don’t have a lot of information. We’re virtually disconnected in terms of communications with the southeast part of the island.”
Maria, now a Category 3 hurricane since early Thursday, has ravaged the Caribbean over the past few days, wreaking devastation on Dominica and the Virgin Islands before slamming into Puerto Rico.
And the threat is not yet over. A hurricane warning is in effect for the Turks and Caicos, the southeastern Bahamas and parts of the Dominican Republic.
Dominica: 14 dead; looting and food, water shortages
On the island of Dominica, 14 people had died. The island is out of power, food and water. People have “gone into survival mode,” with widespread looting on the island.
Hundreds of homes have been visibly flattened or damaged. Many had roofs torn off.
The landscape has been stripped bare.
Thousands of trees have been snapped at their base and those still standing are devoid of leaves.
Dominica a lush green paradise is now brown and lifeless.
Puerto Rico: Total devastation
Now that Maria has moved past Puerto Rico, search and rescue teams are taking to the country’s darkened streets. The devastating winds had died down to a whisper late Wednesday and the flooding rains were just a drizzle, but getting around was difficult due to widespread damage and no electricity except from generators.
The storm caused widespread flooding and ripped trees out of the ground. More than 10,000 remained in shelters Wednesday night. This is total devastation. Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same. … This is something of historic proportions.
A nightly curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. will take effect Wednesday evening and end Saturday morning.
Maria towards Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands
Maria is next expected to pass by the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands, causing dangerous storm surge and rainfall.
Devastation in St. Croix and St. Thomas
Maria obliterated buildings on several other Caribbean islands. Aaliyah Bisamber of St. Croix shot video of Maria’s annihilation of her old house, which was right next to her new home. I was pretty amazed the hurricane had such power to rip off half the house:
— Aaliyah Bisamber (@liyahstx) September 20, 2017
US Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said the damage to St. Croix is especially alarming: “First priority is going to be saving of lives – not just in Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands – I’m especially concerned with St. Croix, that was also in the path of Hurricane Maria when it was a Category 5 hurricane.”
Dangerous storm surges “accompanied by large and destructive waves” will raise water levels 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning areas of the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos. The islands could also see as much as 20 inches of rain.
This video is also from PR today. From the town Toa Baja. Its in Spanish. pic.twitter.com/RTzSrVdqiS
— Antonio Paris (@AntonioParis) September 20, 2017
Some long-range models say Maria could move toward the North Carolina coast as it moves north. CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater said people should keep an eye on the storm.
Maria became the first hurricane of Category 4 strength or higher in 85 years to make a direct landfall on Puerto Rico. The hurricane slammed the US territory with such intensity, it broke two National Weather Service radars there.