Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands… Maria’s Aftermath

By Faye Higbee

Hurricane Maria smashed into Puerto Rico with winds of 155 Miles per hour- 2 mph short of a Category 5. It struck St Croix in the USVI, along with St John and St Thomas, which were already devastated from Irma. St Croix and Puerto Rico were only skirted by Irma. Apparently Maria wanted to even the score.

The US Coast Guard sheltered in place on Puerto Rico.

St John- hit again

Celia, the Director of the St John Foundation sent this email to notify people of what is happening on that small island:

Many Islands. One Love” A few short and intermittent Satellite phone calls and posts have come in this morning after Maria passed south of St. John and made landfall in Puerto Rico at 6:15 this morning. The 11:11 AM VITEMA Alert reported steady strong winds up to from 35 with gusts up to 50 mph for the next few hours in STT/STJ. As expected there was, and continues to be, showers and scattered thunderstorms with flooding in guts and low lying areas. Storm surge reportedly left most of the barges on STJ inoperable. Residents are asked to stay inside while the 1st responders clear the roads and assist where needed. Supplies were topped off before Maria, military and emergency responders are being redeployed, and communications are expected to resume in a slow but progressive manner. More news as connectivity improves.

 If anyone wants to help this island, they are asking folks to  Register online here.  The only accommodations left standing are prioritized for displaced residents and federal disaster responders. The people registering will be contacted once the needs are assessed. Many people evacuated the island ahead of Maria, but not all.

St Thomas – floods

The Island of St Thomas, already struggling after Irma, was hit with torrents of rain that brought major flooding.

St Croix – the eye slightly south of them

The island of St Croix dodged a bullet when the main part of Maria’s eyewall moved slightly south, but they were still devastated. Trees were down, some buildings still standing, others not. Some roofs ripped off.

A hint of the damage on St Croix

Puerto Rico- 3.5 Million People

“We are 100% without power…This is total devastation. Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same. … This is something of historic proportions.” Carlos Mercader, spokesman for Puerto Rico’s governor.

Only those with generators had power as of Wednesday morning. Maria made landfall near the city of Yabucoa with 155 mph winds. Two weather radars from the National Weather Service were broken. People began calling for rescue, but the first responders could not go there during the storm.

Hotels were flooding, and residents who were huddled in hallways because of broken windows had to move to higher floors after 12-18 inches of rain pounded the island.

Cell phone towers had collapsed making communication extremely difficult or impossible. Flooding was rampant across the island, and one report stated that rescuers were “locked in place” until the worst had passed.

 

Maria finally slowed to a Category 3 hurricane, but remained dangerous with 111 mph winds as it turned away from Puerto Rico. It may strengthen again as it brushes the Dominican Republic. It is not expected to turn back toward the United States.