Soon after making landfall on Puerto Rico Wednesday morning, startling images and videos of Hurricane Maria’s destruction there and throughout the Caribbean began to surface. Come Thursday morning, the Category 3 storm barreled past the Dominican Republic as its path continued along a northern trajectory current forecasts indicate will put it out into the northern Atlantic Ocean. However, CNN reports experts tracking and predicting Maria’s path haven’t “ruled out” the possibility of its striking the U.S. mainland somewhere along the east coast sometime this weekend or next week.
Maintaining wind speeds of up to 115 miles per hour, Maria’s wrath against the Dominican Republic on Thursday was horrendous. To make matters worse, the island of 10.7 million people has encountered at least 16 inches of rain in certain parts, causing massive flooding and damage to the area. Per a NBC News interview with San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Yulin Cruz, however, the latter island’s current state following the then-Category 5 storm’s beating is even more frightening. “I’m just concerned we may not get to everybody in time,” she said. “That is a great weight on my shoulders.”
In another interview, Cruz said “the San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there,” and that all of Puerto Rico is “looking at 4 to 6 months without electricity.” U.S. officials monitoring the situation there suggest the entire island could be without power for half a year, which means the nearly 3.5 million people who live their face a very difficult time in the coming months. Just a few weeks prior, Hurricane Irma devastated Puerto Rico and left at least 1 million people without power.