Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico in the dark

When Hurricane Maria roared into Puerto Rico Wednesday morning, everyone was expecting the worst. But the extent of the damage is just beginning to be revealed.

The Associated Press reports that the Category 2 storm brought widespread flooding, damaged buildings and knocked out the national electric grid.

NewsWorks’ Down the Shore blogger Justin Auciello is in Puerto Rico and rode out the storm in an Old San Juan hotel. He reports that the buildings in Old San Juan appear largely unscathed, which is no surprise because most of the buildings are made of concrete. Even most of the telephone poles were still in place. 

But Old San Juan sits on higher ground than most of the island, so it may be an exception. In another section of the city, “People were kayaking through the street,” Auciello said.

Entire country without power

Residents in Puerto Rico are in the dark, literally and figuratively. The electricity is out, and both cellular and Wi-Fi communications are down. “I haven’t been able to get information about the rest of the island,” he said. “We are only getting information from the radio, and they are saying they are not getting information from many areas.”

The full extent of the damage for all of Puerto Rico may take days to learn because communication with some towns was cut off.

The storm slammed into Puerto Rico Wednesday with 155 mph (249 kph) winds, the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. territory in more than 80 years.

President Donald Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for the island.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.