The havoc Hurricane Maria wreaked on Puerto Rico was painfully apparent as rescuers, officials and residents of the small U.S. island wandered through daybreak Thursday.
Splintered homes, crumbled balconies and uprooted trees floated through streets filled with floodwater as a result of the Category 4 natural disaster that left the entire island without power.
The storm sliced through the island on Wednesday. Officials predicted that it could take months to restore electricity.
As it deals with the storm, the small island has also been struck by bankruptcy and a wave of debt. A recovery process begun after Hurricane Irma hit the island just a couple of weeks ago. That storm claimed the lives of at least three people and left nearly 70 percent of residents without power.
“Irma gave us a break, but Maria destroyed us,” Edwin Serrano, a construction worker in Old San Juan, told the New York Times.
Maria hit the southeast side of the island Wednesday with winds of 155 miles per hour, then lost strength. But early Thursday, the storm regained power and continued to roll north, affecting those in the Dominican Republic with its pounding rains and heavy winds.
Officials have cautioned that Maria could cause storm surges to the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, two islands that were already reeling from the effects of Irma.
Maria is projected to veer north and spare the U.S mainland.
Forecasters in Puerto Rico will see about two feet of rain by Friday, with as much as 35 inches predicted to hit some parts of the island. In the Dominican Republic, storm surges were expected to raise water levels by as much as six feet.
So far, officials have reported just one fatality in Puerto Rico, but they still are unable to communicate with the southeastern part of the island that was hit hardest by the storm.
As for the Dominican Republic, 14 people to date have died as a result of Hurricane Maria.
Check back for updates.
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