SAN JUAN – Hurricane Maria has caused severe damage to infrastructure in Puerto Rico, but authorities have received no reports of fatalities due to the Category 4 storm, Gov. Ricky Rossello said Wednesday.
Maria made landfall at 6:15 am Wednesday on Puerto Rico’s southeastern coast, packing maximum sustained winds of 250 km/h (155 mph), according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).
By 2:00 pm, the eye of the storm had moved offshore and the maximum sustained winds had decreased to 185 km/h (115 mph), the NHC said in its latest bulletin.
Rossello, however, emphasized that the danger from Maria continues, telling media outlets in the US commonwealth that Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million residents were still facing “a full day of rain.”
Authorities have received calls for help, but first responders will have to wait for the winds to subside further before venturing out, the governor said.
Rossello said on Twitter that he asked US President Donald Trump to declare Puerto Rico a disaster zone in order to expedite the release of federal funds for storm relief and recovery.
On Monday, Trump declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands as the monster hurricane was moving across the Caribbean.
The director of Puerto Rico’s AEMEAD disaster management agency urged residents to remain indoors through Thursday.
“Remember that there are electric wires on the ground and that can cause accidents,” Abner Gomez said, confirming that Maria had completely knocked out power on the island.
EFE saw hundreds of homes ripped apart by hurricane winds and rain-swollen rivers bursting their banks, while photos of overturned cars and uprooted trees circulated on social media.
Several hospitals in San Juan and nearby Caguas suffered structural damage that was serious enough to force the evacuation of patients.
Maria is the most powerful hurricane to strike Puerto Rico in more than 80 years.