Maria ‘potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in a century’: Governor

Article By: EMILY SHAPIRO, JOSHUA HOYOS, MAX GOLEMBO & J.J. Gallagher

As residents of Puerto Rico brace for Hurricane Maria — which slammed into the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm Monday night — Puerto Rico’s governor is calling the storm:

“the biggest & potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in a century.”

Maria, which has left at least 1 dead in the Caribbean, is expected to move over the northeastern Caribbean Sea today & is forecast to “remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane” as it approaches the Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico tonight & Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said. Maria could bring life-threatening flooding & mudslides, as well as a 6- to 9-foot storm surge, to the Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico.

Most models are forecasting Maria will stay away from Florida & the U.S. mainland.

PHOTO: Hurricane Maria forecast track as of Sept. 19, 2017. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Hurricane Maria forecast track as of Sept. 19, 2017. (ABC News)
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PHOTO: Hurricane Maria forecast track as of Sept. 19, 2017. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Hurricane Maria forecast track as of Sept. 19, 2017. (ABC News)
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The storm — which is expected to bring life-threatening winds, storm surge & flooding — will be violent, the governor of Puerto Rico warned today. The governor advised residents to be prepared to hunker down for 72 to 90 hours.

It’s been just 2 weeks since Hurricane Irma, which killed at least 39 people in the Caribbean & demolished homes, tore through Puerto Rico & now Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is saying Maria is “potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit” the U.S. territory in a century. A Category 4 storm hasn’t hit Puerto Rico directly since 1932.

Rossello said up to 25 inches of rain could fall in some areas & he urged anyone in a flood-prone, mudslide-prone or coastal area to leave. Over 300 people are already at shelters as of this afternoon, the governor said. Rossello said a lot of infrastructure will likely be lost & he said communications will be affected.

The governor in an address this afternoon said, “We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history.”

When Irma tore through the Caribbean, Rossello said,

“the people of Puerto Rico not only demonstrated our resilience but we banded together to show our kindness & hospitality to 1000s of our fellow Americans in the U.S. Virgin Islands, BVI, St. Marteen & beyond. Now we’re looking down the barrel of Maria, a historic Category 5 hurricane. Although it looks like a direct hit w/major damage to Puerto Rico is inevitable, I ask for America’s prayers,” he said. “No matter what happens here in the next 36 hours, Puerto Rico will survive, we will rebuild, we will recover & w/your support, we will come out stronger than ever.”

While Puerto Rico residents appeared to go about their days w/little urgency Monday, many seem to be on edge today as the storm nears.PHOTO: Workers dismantle a scaffold, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as the city prepares for the arrival of hurricane Maria which is approaching both the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico with winds of 160 miles per hour, storm surges and torrential rains. (Thais Llorca/EPA)

PHOTO: Workers dismantle a scaffold in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as the city prepares for the arrival of hurricane Maria which is approaching both the Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico w/winds of 160 miles per hour, storm surges & torrential rains. (Thais Llorca/EPA)
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In the capital of San Juan, most businesses are closed or closing early today & the San Juan Airport is closing this evening.

As Maria hit the Caribbean island of Dominica Monday night, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit published a series of dire Facebook posts, calling the 160 mph winds “merciless.”

“We do not know what is happening outside. We not dare look out … we pray for its end!” Skerrit wrote.

Maria was the 1st Category 5 hurricane to make landfall on Dominica; before Monday the strongest hurricane to hit Dominica was Hurricane David, a Category 4 in 1979.

Guadeloupe & Martinique, which both neighbor Dominica in the Caribbean, were also battered w/Maria’s powerful winds & rain Monday night.

PHOTO:Rocks swept by strong waves onto a road in Le Carbet, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, after it was hit by Hurricane Maria, on September 19, 2017. (Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO:Rocks swept by strong waves onto a road in Le Carbet, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, after it was hit by Hurricane Maria, on September 19, 2017. (Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP/Getty Images)
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PHOTO: People stand among the debris at a restaurant in Le Carbet, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, after it was hit by Hurricane Maria, on September 19, 2017. (Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: People stand among the debris at a restaurant in Le Carbet, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, after it was hit by Hurricane Maria, on September 19, 2017. (Lionel Chamoiseau/AFP/Getty Images)
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Officials said in Guadeloupe 1 person died from a falling tree. Officials said 80,000 are w/out power on Guadeloupe & some flooding was reported, but few homes are damaged.

PHOTO: Powerful winds and rains from hurricane Maria as it batters the city of Petit-Bourg on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, Sept. 19, 2017. (Cedrik-Isham Calvados/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Powerful winds & rains from hurricane Maria as it batters the city of Petit-Bourg on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, Sept. 19, 2017. (Cedrik-Isham Calvados/AFP/Getty Images)
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PHOTO: Powerful winds and rain of hurricane Maria battering Pointe-a-Pitre on the French overseas Caribbean island of Gaudeloupe, Sept. 19, 2017. (loly_fwi/Instagram/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Powerful winds & rain of hurricane Maria battering Pointe-a-Pitre on the French overseas Caribbean island of Gaudeloupe, Sept. 19, 2017. (loly_fwi/Instagram/AFP/Getty Images)
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Dominica was “shut down” as the storm approached, said Anil Etienne, a spokesman for Dominica’s Office of Disaster Management. Etienne told ABC News officials were worried about flooding in low-lying areas & opened about 146 shelters.

The prime minister of Dominica wrote on Facebook late Monday night, “My roof is gone. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding,” before announcing, “I have been rescued.”

Skerrit gave an update this morning, writing on Facebook,

“Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy & replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury & possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains. The winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with,” he continued. “The roof to my own official residence was among the 1st to go & this apparently triggered an avalanche of torn away roofs in the city & the countryside.”

After hitting Puerto Rico, the storm will begin to turn north & is expected to come near the Dominican Republic Wednesday afternoon, potentially w/winds over 100 mph. Maria is forecast to then continue north, avoiding the Turks & Caicos, the Bahamas & Florida, before ending up out to sea.

View full article at: https://www.yahoo.com/gma/help-kinds-dominica-pm-pleads-cat-5-maria-101705482–abc-news-topstories.html

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