Hailed as the strongest storm to slam the US in nearly 90 years, hurricane Maria created havoc in Puerto Rico on Wednesday while on its way to the capital, San Juan. A second major hurricane to slam the Caribbean this month, it caused a landfall near Yabucoa which is on the southwest coast of the island inhabiting 3.4 million people, thousands sought safety in shelters. According to the US National Hurricane Center the hurricane blew at a speed of 145 miles per hour. Maria's eye which caused such high surges was at about 15 miles southwest of San Juan at 9 am ET.
The storm was so strong that buildings trembled, windows broke or dangled haphazardly and even metal barricades and debris flew along streets. With the city's sewage line succumbing to the storm, toilets were bubbling noisily and belched foul air. While on the way to Caribbean, it had killed a person in Guadeloupe and caused huge destruction in the tiny island nation of Dominica.
Earlier the strongest Atlantic storm on record, hurricane Irma had already devastated several Caribbean islands and Florida this month with a death toll of at least 84. In his televised message, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello stated of never experiencing an event of such magnitude in modern history. Accepting Puerto Rico's inevitable damage, he asked for America's prayers. He informed of setting up 500 shelters.
According to NHC, about 25 inches of rain may be splattered on parts of Puerto Rico by Maria and ocean water may rise up to 9 feet above normal levels. The probability is that the heavy rain might trigger life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. After the San Felipe Segundo hurricane in 1928 which killed over 300 people, Maria is the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico. Prior to hitting Puerto Rico, Maria slammed west of St. Croix as a rare Category 5 storm which is the top of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. From day break, the authorities in St. Croix would assess damage. NHC stated that by Wednesday night and Thursday, Maria may pass north of the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic on Wednesday but is not likely to threaten the continental United States.
The consequences would be catastrophic for Puerto Rico. Even though Irma has just grazed north of Puerto Rico, it has knocked about 70 percent of the island's power and a death toll of three. The island is also facing the largest municipal debt crisis in US history with both its government and the public utility filing for bankruptcy protection amid disputes with creditors.,/p. Late Monday, Maria caused 'mind-boggling' destruction in Dominica, a mountainous country of 72,000 people. Adjacent to it, the French island of Guadeloupe also suffered heavily with one person dying under a falling tree and two people missing in a shipwreck. Not only were roofs ripped off and the streets filled with fallen trees but its south coastal areas were also flooded and a power outage hit about 80,000 households.