Hurricane Maria Strikes, and Puerto Rico Goes DarkThe New York Times America’s richest and poorest statesSAN JUAN, P.R. — Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico in almost a century, ravaged the island on Wednesday, knocking out all electricity, deluging towns with flashfloods and mudslides and compounding the already considerable pain of residents here.Less than two weeks ago, Hurricane Irma dealt the island a glancing blow, killing at least three people and leaving nearly 70 percent of households without power. This storm, which made landfall at 6 a.m. as a Category 4 hurricane, took out the island’s entire power grid, and only added to the woes of a commonwealth that has been groaning under the weight of an extended debt and bankruptcy crisis.Beyond the immediate damage from winds up to 155 miles per hour, continuous rain flooded coastal communities as well as neighborhoods in the central, mountainous areas of the island, which is full of rivers and streams. One person was reported dead, though the power failure has largely cut off communication with some of the worst-hit areas.Sign Up For the Morning Briefing NewsletterResidents woke Wednesday to the clamor of strengthening wind gusts, with the memory of Hurricane Irma still fresh. By afternoon, the whole island had lost electricity.“There has been nothing like this,” said Ramón Lopez, a military veteran who was holding back tears outside his neighborhood in Guaynabo, on the northern coast near San Juan, the capital. “It was the fury. It didn’t stop.”Such was the sentiment across the island as the barrage of howling gusts and pounding rain did not cease from the early morning until evening.Francisco Ramirez, 23, weathered the storm inside the convenience store of a gas station in Guaynabo. As a security guard at the station, he was scheduled for the 8 p.m. shift on Tuesday, hours before Maria hit. He sat behind a counter while the storm raged outside and water seeped in beneath the doors. Winds peeled off the aluminum roof piece by piece throughout the night, and knocked over several gas pumps.“It felt like a tornado, as if the roof was going to come off,” Mr. Ramirez said.Thousands of residents fled the winds and rain and hunkered down in stronger buildings. More than 500 shelters have been opened in Puerto Rico, but Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he could not vouch for the storm-worthiness of those structures.About 600 people took refuge in one of the biggest shelters, the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan. Witnesses said that the arena’s roof had come off and that the shelter lacked electricity and running water.“It’s looking ugly, ugly, ugly over here,” Shania Vargas, a resident of Carolina who had taken shelter in the arena, said in a telephone interview. Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of San Juan remained at the shelter with residents as the hurricane struck. She told people there that there had been widespread flooding in the city, and said in a video posted to Twitter that “as uncomfortable as we are, we are better off than any other place.”Elsewhere in the capital, tree trunks and electricity poles had snapped like twigs, obstructing major highways and winding mountain roads alike. If an exit was not blocked by foliage, then it was flooded. Power lines thrashed in the high winds. The commercial Roosevelt Avenue had water up to the waist.Metal gates in affluent neighborhoods like Caparra had been crumpled like cardboard, while makeshift trails leading to wooden houses in the barrios of Guaynabo had been made impassable by fallen trees.Smaller towns and more rural areas, many full of wooden houses with zinc roofs, were difficult to reach after the storm, but widespread damage was reported. Mayor Félix Delgado of Cataño, on the northern coast, told a San Juan radio station that the storm had destroyed 80 percent of the homes in the Juana Matos neighborhood, which had been evacuated.Photos and videos posted on social media showed severe flooding in the central areas of the island. Rivers overflowed and their waters rushed through the narrow streets, taking some homes with them.Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico had very fragile power systems and that electricity was expected to remain out for a very long time.Much of Puerto Rico lost power after Hurricane Irma passed just north of it this month, exposing the island’s doddering infrastructure and the severe challenges it faces amid a worsening economic crisis. Electrical power, produced by the state-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or Prepa, has long been a headache for residents, who have come to distrust the flickering grid even in normal conditions.Efforts by Prepa to fix lines and restore power after Irma will almost certainly have been undone by Maria, and the question of how a debt-ridden commonwealth will pay for comprehensive repairs is sure to confound its leaders long after the storm dissipates.Potable water was also affected by the storm, but the authorities could not yet say just how much damage had been done. Elí Díaz Atienza, president of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, said that the agency’s communications systems had gone down and that he was not able to check on plants and offices.The gates of La Plata dam in Bayamón and the Carraízo dam in Trujillo Alto, both on the northern coast, were opened to avoid flooding in the nearby areas. The authority had begun emptying the reservoirs several day ago in anticipation of heavy rain.Mr. Rosselló said on Twitter that he had urged President Trump to declare Puerto Rico a disaster zone. Mr. Trump declared an emergency in the commonwealth on Monday, and ordered federal assistance in the hurricane response. But a disaster declaration would escalate that help.Mr. Trump called the hurricane “a big one” at a meeting in New York with King Abdullah II of Jordan. “I’ve never seen winds like this. Puerto Rico, you take a look at what’s happening there. It’s just one after another,” he said.Other islands hit by Hurricane Maria before it made landfall on Puerto Rico were still struggling to regroup. Seven deaths had been confirmed on Dominica, where the hurricane hit Tuesday, and the toll was likely to rise, according to Hartley Henry, an adviser to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. Housing was severely damaged and all public buildings were being used as shelters, he said.On Puerto Rico, even the concrete walls of some condominiums in San Juan had been blasted away, leaving living rooms and kitchens exposed. Outdoor basketball courts were swimming pools. Traffic lights had been knocked down and were now part of the obstacle courses of roadways. Zinc-roofed structures were destroyed, as were windows and glass doors.“This looks like a different country,” Marimar de la Cruz, an educational consultant, said as she viewed the destruction in Hato Rey, a San Juan neighborhood.Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Rosselló said that the island had updated its building codes around 2011. Recent structures have been built to withstand storms, but many traditional dwellings, the governor said, “had no chance.”Still, Mr. Rosselló offered words of hope.“There is no hurricane stronger than the people of Puerto Rico,” he said. “And immediately after this is done, we will stand back up.”
World A 6.1-magnitude earthquake has struck Japan 175 miles from the Fukushima nuclear plant
Less than 24 hours after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake pummeled Mexico City, another tremor has occurred off the east coast of Japan.The 6.1-magnitude quake struck roughly 175 miles east of the shuttered Fukushima nuclear plant at roughly 2:30 a.m. local time, according to the US Geological Survey. Its hypocenter — the underwater locus of the quake — happened at a depth of about 6 miles.Like Mexico, Japan is located in what is considered an active earthquake region.The country is influenced by the slipping and sliding of several of Earth’s tectonic plates, including the North America plate, Pacific plate, Philippine Sea plate, and Eurasia plate. Whenever these pieces of crust grind or butt up against one another, earthquakes happen.Over the past century, Japan has been struck by nine severe earthquakes, each of which killed more than 1,000 people.
Dominican Republic shuts most ports ahead of Hurricane MariaBy Jorge PinedaBy Jorge PinedaSANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) – Dominican Republic closed most of its ports ahead of Hurricane Maria, but the country’s 34,000-barrel-per-day refinery was still running, the government said on Wednesday.Ports that suspended operations under the „red alert” declared for extreme weather conditions are La Romana, Samana, Arroyo Barril, Puerto Plata and Manzanillo, the Dominican Port Authority said in a statement. Maria was a Category 4 hurricane when it hit Puerto Rico earlier on Wednesday.The ports of San Souci and Haina, which serve the country’s sole refinery, also halted operations on Wednesday, according to operators of those facilities. The port of Caucedo has not declared its status.State-run refining company Refidomsa last week lifted a force majeure declaration on its fuel deliveries due to Hurricane Harvey, which limited its imports of oil from the U.S. Gulf Coast to be processed at the facility.The refinery’s docks temporarily closed earlier in September due to Hurricane Irma, but they resumed operations days later.Refidomsa, owned by the island’s government and Venezuela’s state-run oil firm Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) [PDVSA.UL], this week issued a „yellow alert” to the industry ahead of Maria, which means it will monitor the storm to decide on further action, the Dominican firm said.Puerto Rico’s Yabucoa terminal operated by Buckeye Partners suspended operations on Tuesday. The company is monitoring the storm to decide whether to close its Bahamas terminal, the largest in the Caribbean.NuStar Energy has not reopened its terminal on the island of St. Eustatius after Hurricane Irma damaged some tanks.(Reporting by Jorge Pineda; Writing by Marianna Parraga; Editing by Richard Chang)
Maria destroys homes, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico DANICA COTO Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico after slamming Dominica SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis.Leaving at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria blew ashore in the morning near the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph (250 kph).Related SearchesPuerto Rico After MariaPuerto Rico Hurrican MariaDominica After Hurricane MariaHurricane Maria Puerto Rico NewsHurricane Maria Hits Puerto RicoIt punished the island of 3.4 million people with life-threatening winds for several hours, the second time in two weeks that Puerto Rico has felt the wrath of a hurricane.”Once we’re able to go outside, we’re going to find our island destroyed,” warned Abner Gomez, Puerto Rico’s emergency management director. „The information we have received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything in its path.”As people waited in shelters or took cover inside stairwells, bathrooms and closets, Maria brought down cell towers and power lines, snapped trees, tore off roofs and unloaded at least 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain.Widespread flooding was reported, with dozens of cars half-submerged in some neighborhoods and many streets turned into rivers. People calling local radio stations reported that doors were being torn off their hinges and a water tank flew away.Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press that 80 percent of the 454 homes in a neighborhood known as Juana Matos were destroyed. The fishing community near San Juan Bay was hit with a storm surge of more than 4 feet (1.2 meters), he said.”Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this,” he said.Gov. Ricardo Rossello imposed a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily until Saturday to allow rescue crews and officials to respond to the hurricane’s aftermath.”We are at a critical moment in the effort to help thousands of Puerto Ricans that urgently need aid and to assess the great damage caused by Hurricane Maria,” he said. „Maintaining public order will be essential.”Rossello said in an interview on CNN’s „Anderson Cooper 360” that one fatality has been reported but because communications were knocked out in some areas, the total casualty count wasn’t known.As of 11 p.m. EDT, Maria remained a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 110 mph (175 kph). It was centered about 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) off the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, moving at 9 mph (15 kph).Even before the storm, Puerto Rico’s electrical grid was crumbling and the island was in dire condition financially.Puerto Rico is struggling to restructure a portion of its $73 billion debt, and the government has warned it is running out of money as it fights against furloughs and other austerity measures imposed by a federal board overseeing the island’s finances.Rossello urged people to have faith: „We are stronger than any hurricane. Together, we will rebuild.”He asked President Donald Trump to declare the island a disaster zone, a step that would open the way to federal aid.Late Wednesday night, Trump tweeted: „Governor @ricardorossello- We are with you and the people of Puerto Rico. Stay safe! #PRStrong.”Many people feared extended power outages would further sink businesses struggling amid a recession that has lasted more than a decade.”This is going to be a disaster,” said Jean Robert Auguste, who owns two French restaurants and sought shelter at a San Juan hotel. „We haven’t made any money this month.”More than 11,000 people — and more than 580 pets — were in shelters, authorities said.Along the island’s northern coast, an emergency medical station in the town of Arecibo lost its roof, while communication was severed with several emergency management posts. A hospital and a police station reported broken windows, and a tree fell on an ambulance.As the storm closed in on the Dominican Republic, about 4,000 tourists in the Bavara-Punta Cana area on the eastern tip of the island were moved to hotels in Santo Domingo, the capital. About 100 flights were canceled and the government suspended school and sent workers home.”The government has prepared itself for the worst case scenario and so should the people,” presidential administrative secretary Jose Ramon Peralta said.Maria posed no immediate threat to the U.S. mainland. The long-range forecast showed the storm out in the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles off the Georgia-South Carolina coast by Monday morning.Previously a Category 5 with 175 mph (281 kph) winds, Maria hit Puerto Rico as the third-strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S., based on its central pressure. It was even stronger than Hurricane Irma when Irma roared into the Florida Keys earlier this month.Irma sideswiped Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, causing no deaths or widespread damage on the island but leaving more than 1 million people without electricity. More than 70,000 still had no power as Maria approached.As Maria closed in, Trump offered his support via Twitter: „Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you – will be there to help!”The storm’s center passed near or over St. Croix overnight Tuesday, prompting U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp to warn people to sleep in their street clothes and shoes just in case. St. Croix was largely spared by Irma.There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries on St. Croix, but it was still too dangerous Wednesday to venture out and conduct a thorough check, said Nykole Tyson, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Operations Center.On the island of Dominica, which got slammed late Monday, Hartley Henry, an adviser to the prime minister, reported at least seven deaths and a „tremendous loss of housing and public buildings.” He said the country was „in a daze,” with no electricity and little to no communications.Dominica’s airport and seaports remained closed, and authorities used helicopters to carry emergency food, water and shelter materials to the island, said Ronald Jackson, head of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency._Associated Press writers Ben Fox in Miami and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.
San Juan Airport Slammed By Hurricane Maria Juliana Rose PignataroSan Juan Airport Slammed By Hurricane MariaHurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico Wednesday, bringing catastrophic winds of up to 155 mph. Initial reports told of “total devastation” on the island. Pictures from San Juan Luis Munoz Marin Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico revealed destruction at the international hub.Photos posted by Radio Isla 1320 showed severe flooding on the airport’s runways and damage to the inside and outside of the building. The pictures appeared to show an airport rendered virtually unusable by the storm.Related SearchesPuerto Rico Hurricane MariaPuerto Rico Airports San JuanIs San Juan Airport OpenHurricane Maria San JuanSan Juan Puerto Rico HurricaneThe airport shut down at 5 p.m. Tuesday before the storm hit, according to Aviation International News. Airlines suspended operations out of Puerto Rico in the lead-up to the storm. Delta Airlines said it planned to restart operations at certain airports Thursday, but doing so would be dependent on the extent of the damage.Maria made landfall in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico early Wednesday as the worst storm to hit the region in 85 years. Winds of up to 155 mph during the Category 4 storm left the entirety of the island without power as of Wednesday afternoon, ABC News reported. Maria continued to forge a warpath through Puerto Rico, moving northwest at about 12 mph.“When we can get outside – we will find our island destroyed,” Abner Gomez, director of the State Agency for Emergency Management and Disaster Management, said in a press conference. “The information we received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything it has had in its wake.”More than 500 shelters were opened in Puerto Rico, Gov. Ricardo Rossello confirmed. Initial reports from the island said that 80 percent of the homes in a Catano, a suburb of San Juan, were destroyed. It remained unclear whether there were any fatalities in Puerto Rico as a result of the hurricane. At least two people, however, were killed when the storm made its way through other parts of the Caribbean in recent days.
Hurricane Maria clobbers Puerto Rico, plunges island into darknessBy Dave Graham and Robin RespautHurricane Maria clobbers Puerto Rico, plunges island into darknessBy Dave Graham and Robin RespautSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) – Hurricane Maria, the strongest storm to strike Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years, carved a path of destruction through the U.S. territory on Wednesday, causing severe flooding and plunging the island into darkness as the storm’s death toll in the Caribbean rose to at least 10.Maria, the second major hurricane to rage through the region this month, was left weakened by its encounter with Puerto Rico and on a course projected to pass north of the Dominican Republic, the Miami-based U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.Hours earlier, Maria pummeled St. Croix, the largest and southern-most of the U.S. Virgin Islands, as a rare Category 5 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, causing widespread heavy damage.Moving on to Puerto Rico ranked a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of up to 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour), Maria ripped roofs from buildings and turned low-lying roadways into rushing debris-laden rivers as it cut a diagonal swath across the island.The island’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, said the only fatality immediately reported was a man struck by a piece of lumber hurled by high winds.The streets of Puerto Rico’s historic Old Town in the capital, San Juan, were strewn with broken balconies, air conditioning units, shattered lamp posts, fallen power lines and dead birds. Few trees escaped unscathed. Thick branches were torn down from most and others were simply uprooted.”It’s nothing short of a major disaster,” Rossello said in a CNN interview, adding it may take months for the island’s electricity to be completely restored. Earlier he imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew for the island.The Hurricane Center reported „catastrophic flash flooding” in portions of the island, and news pictures showed whole blocks under water in areas of the capital.”When we are able to go outside, we are going to find our island destroyed,” Abner Gomez, the director of the island’s emergency management agency, was quoted as saying by El Nuevo Dia newspaper. „It’s a system that has destroyed everything in its path.”Virtually the entire island was without electricity as night fell, said Pedro Cerame, a spokesman for the governor.By 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT), Maria’s center was drifting away from Puerto Rico. The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) and was 55 miles (90 km) off the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, the NHC said.As is typical for hurricanes passing over hilly or mountainous terrain, Maria was markedly diminished by the time it crossed Puerto Rico, though the NHC said the storm was likely to regain major hurricane status on Thursday.Maria was expected to skirt past the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic Wednesday night and Thursday before approaching the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas on Thursday night and Friday, the NHC said. So far, it looked unlikely to threaten the U.S. mainland.Storm-related rainfall was expected to range from 20 to 30 inches (50 to 76 cm) on much of Puerto Rico through Friday, according to NHC.Maria was classified a Category 5 storm when it struck the eastern Caribbean island nation of Dominica on Monday night with devastating force, killing at least seven people there, government officials.Based on an aerial survey, about 95 percent of roofs in Dominica, one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean with a population of about 73,000, were damaged or destroyed by Maria, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said. It added damage to the island could be in the billions of dollars.Hartley Henry, principal adviser to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that „the country is in a daze.”Two people died in the French territory of Guadeloupe before Maria raked St. Croix.FRAGILE HOMESHurricane Irma, which ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, also left a trail of destruction in several Caribbean islands and Florida this month, killing at least 84 people.Like much of the Caribbean, many homes and businesses across Puerto Rico have wooden or tin roofs that proved no match for a storm of Maria’s intensity.”This might be a new, permanent part of our lives,” said Ramon Claudio Ortiz, 71, a retired lawyer. „We’re going to have to revisit our building codes.”Maria was the second-strongest hurricane ever recorded to make landfall in Puerto Rico, behind the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane, which struck the island as a Category 5 storm and killed more than 300 people.The island’s recovery could be complicated by its current financial woes, the largest municipal debt crisis in U.S. history. Both its government and the public utility have filed for bankruptcy protection amid disputes with creditors.Seventy percent of the island had lost power after Irma dealt a glancing blow on Sept. 6, killing at least three people.Passing early Wednesday just west of St. Croix, home to about 55,000 people, Maria damaged an estimated 65 percent to 70 percent of the island’s buildings, said Holland Redfield, who served six terms in the U.S. Virgin Islands senate.”There were a lot of homes that had lost their roofs. It was a sad sight,” Redfield said in a phone interview.Photos posted on Facebook from St. Croix by Virgin Islands’ local public television station, WTJX-TV, showed a tableau of fallen utility and telephone poles, tangled wires, uprooted trees and storm shutters ripped from buildings.In Guadeloupe, many roads were blocked and 40 percent of the population was without power, France’s overseas territories ministry said.(Reporting by Dave Graham and Robin Respaut in San Juan; Additional reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City, Richard Lough and French language service in Paris and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Scott Malone and Steve Gorman; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Richard Pullin)
Puerto Rico in dark, curfew set after island ‘destroyed’ by Hurricane Maria, officials say MARK OSBORNE, MORGAN WINSOR and JULIA JACOBO,Good Morning America 2 hours 42 minutes ago Video Not AvailableUnfortunately, this video is not available in your region.SS-100-202 The island of Puerto Rico has been „destroyed” after Hurricane Maria made landfall there as a Category 4 storm Wednesday morning, according to emergency officials.Puerto Rico’s office of emergency management confirmed that 100 percent of the U.S. territory had lost power, noting that anyone with electricity was using a generator.Multiple transmission lines sustained damage from the storm, said Ricardo Ramos, director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. Ramos said he hopes to begin launching helicopters by this weekends to begin inspecting the transmission lines.Telecommunications throughout the island have „collapsed,” Abner Gomez Cortes, executive director of Puerto Rico’s office of emergency management and disaster administration agency, told ABC News.As of 8 p.m. ET, Maria had weakened to a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained wind of 110 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was located about 90 miles east-northeast of Punta Cana, a popular tourist destination in the Dominican Republic.Conditions on the eastern side of the Dominican Republic had started to deteriorate by Wednesday afternoon.Some strengthening is possible now that the storm is back over the ocean, so Maria has potential to become a Category 3 hurricane again. Maria is forecast to churn past off the eastern shore of the Dominican Republic into Thursday before moving near Turks and Caicos and the southeast Bahamas Thursday night through Friday.The latest track has Maria curving north and eventually north-northeast. Forecast models currently show the storm continuing to weaken next week as it travels far offshore, staying away from Florida and the Southeast coast. The only impacts the storm will have on the east coast at this point will be dangerous surf and rip currents.Puerto Rico pummeled by the powerful stormCortes described Maria as an unprecedented storm, adding that the island had not seen a storm of that strength since 1928.A hurricane task force for the U.S. Department of State is monitoring Maria’s path in the Caribbean and will coordinate evacuations for U.S. citizens and provide aid on the ground, a State Department official told ABC News.Puerto Rico was still experiencing tropical-storm force winds Wednesday afternoon, forcing emergency services and search and rescue teams to wait before heading out to assess the damage, Cortes said.More than 12,000 people are currently in shelters, and hospitals are now running on generators, Cortes said. Two hospitals — one in Caguas and one in Bayamon — have been damaged.No deaths have been reported so far, but catastrophic flooding is currently taking place on the island. Multiple rain gauges have reported between 18 and 24 inches of rain, with some approaching the 30-inch mark over the last 24 hours.Flooding is the danger „that will take lives,” Cortes said, advising residents not to venture out of their homes until Thursday because „it is not safe to go out and observe.””We will rebuild our island with federal and state funds, hard work and the spirit of all Puerto Rican citizens,” Cortes said.ABC News correspondents observed widespread destruction in the town of Guaynabo, about 10 miles south of San Juan.Trees and power lines were downed, and storefronts and building facades had crumbled. Neighborhoods in Guaynabo were filled with waist-deep floodwaters and destroyed homes that were clearly not built to any kind of code.A Guaynabo resident who huddled in a bathroom with her family of six said told ABC News, „The winds took my home.”Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced via Twitter that a curfew was in effect starting at 6 p.m.Storm surge was predicted to be 6 to 9 feet in coastal Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Rainfall totals for Puerto Rico were projected at 12 to 18 inches, with as much as 35 inches in isolated areas.Felix Delgado Montalvo, the mayor of Catano, some 7 miles southwest of San Juan, told ABC News on Wednesday there are hundreds of people in shelters and over 1,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the communities of Juana Matos, La Puntilla and Puente Blanco. Most of the homes are flooded and are missing roofs or have collapsed walls, he said.About 80 percent of residences in the Juana Matos community were destroyed from storm surge and flooding. Homes there are filled with at least 3 to 4 feet of water, according to Montalvo.By Friday, Maria will pass to the east of Turks and Caicos, but the storm is not expected to make a direct hit.From there, the hurricane is forecast to pass by the southeast islands of the Bahamas.Maria leaves behind trail of death, destruction in Caribbean Maria did severe damage to multiple Caribbean islands over the past 36 hours, including Dominica, Guadeloupe and the Virgin Islands.The U.S. Department of State sent a message of solidarity Wednesday to the people of Dominica and all across the Caribbean who were affected by Maria.Hartley Henry, an adviser to Dominica’s prime minister, told reporters via WhatsApp on Wednesday that several people have died and the death toll „will rise” as officials continue to assess the widespread damage on the tiny island. Dominica has suffered a „tremendous loss of housing and public buildings” since the storm hit, ripping off roofs and tearing doors from hinges. The island’s main general hospital „took a beating” and „patient care has been compromised,” he said.”The country is in a daze — no electricity, no running water,” Henry said via a WhatsApp message. „In summary, the island has been devastated.” The Ross University School of Medicine, based in Portsmouth, Dominica, announced on Facebook that it is attempting to make contact with all of its students. More than 1,400 students and faculty have signed the registration sheet so far, and the school has reached out to the family members of more than 700 others, who informed them that they are safe.Officials in Guadeloupe announced Wednesday that two people were killed and two others were missing due to the storm.France’s Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said some 80,000 people in Guadeloupe — around 40 percent of the population — were without electricity Wednesday. Many roads there are impassible due to flooding and French Navy planes have not been able to assess the damage on the island due to bad weather conditions.In Martinique, about 70,000 homes were without electricity and 50,000 homes did not have access to safe drinking water Wednesday. Fallen trees and downed power poles have blocked many roads there, Collomb said.Police and soldiers have been deployed in both Martinique and Guadeloupe to ensure security. More than 3,000 first responders are on the French Caribbean islands, according to Collomb.ABC News’ Benjamin Gittleson, Joshua Hoyos, Paul Pradier and Victor Oquendo contributed to this report.