Hurricane Maria presents a direct threat to the island of Puerto Rico as experts reveal that what started as just a tropical storm has developed a dangerous ‘pinhole eye.' With wind speeds of 160mph, Maria is said to be picking up strength as it reaches the Islands of the Caribbean.
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“If you are in a flood zone or in a wood house, your life is in danger,” said Puerto Rico’s Governor, Ricardo Rossello, during a press conference Monday in San Juan. “There has never been an event like this in our history in the last 100 years. Our call is for all citizens to move to a safe place.
In just a twenty-seven hour period between Sunday and Monday, Hurricane Maria has upgraded from a Category 1 tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane. Maria swept through the island of Dominica for hours late Monday night, leaving the small island of 77,000 occupants devastated, taking with it the house of prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit who had to be rescued. The 44-year-old, who has led the country since 2004, shared on Facebook that his roof was gone and he had been at the 'complete mercy of the hurricane' before being safely evacuated. Barbuda, the smaller of the two islands that make up the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, although still suffering severe damages from hurricane Irma that hit just last week, was entirely evacuated yesterday for the first time in about 300 years. Many of its residents have taken refuge in nearby Antiguan, and the island is now being guarded by Royal Marines.
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As hurricane Maria swept through Dominica late Monday night, its winds reached sustained maximum speeds of 160mph— and forecasters warned it might become even stronger, the most recent blow in the worst hurricane season for seven years. The aftermath of hurricane Irma left the island of Puerto Rico with as much as $1 billion of damages and hundreds of thousands without power and now faces an even greater threat as Hurricane Maria is set to hit as soon as Tuesday night.
'You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you're going to die,' said Hector Pesquera, Puerto Rico’s public safety commissioner. 'I don't know how to make this any clearer.
Governor Rossello’s administration has provided nearly 500 shelters throughout the island capable of taking in up to 133,000 people in a worst-case scenario. Water, batteries, baby food, and generators were said to be scarce in San Juan by Monday evening, and motorists waited in-line for at least half an hour to buy gasoline. 'It will essentially devastate most of the island,' Rossello told USA Today adding: 'It will provoke massive flooding in flooding prone regions... our priority is to save lives.'
Officials estimate the last time the island withstood such a powerful storm was in 1928 with Hurricane San Felipe. Hurricane Maria, which could hit Puerto Rico as a Category 5 hurricane, has still not proven to present a direct threat to mainland U.S.