The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years destroyed homes, knocked out power across the entire island and triggered heavy flooding Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis.
Leaving at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria blew ashore in the morning in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph (250 kph).
It was expected to punish the island of 3.4 million people with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours.
“Once we’re able to go outside, we’re going to find our island destroyed,” warned Abner Gomez, Puerto Rico’s emergency management director. “The information we have received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything in its path.”
It was the second time in two weeks that Puerto Rico felt the wrath of a hurricane. There were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries on the island.