is slamming the Caribbean as a powerful storm. It made landfall Monday night on the island of Dominica with Category 5 strength and the National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday “it now appears likely” that Maria will remain a Category 5 storm when it hits Puerto Rico.
Dominica’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, said there were reports of “widespread devastation” throughout the small island. He said the storm’s winds ripped the roofs off his home as well as many other buildings. There were no immediate reports of deaths, but Skerrit said he would assess the damage when the storm has passed.
Maria is targeting other islands that did not get the full fury of Hurricane Irma earlier this month. Those islands include St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The “potentially catastrophic” hurricane was located about 110 miles southeast of St. Croix on Monday afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Authorities in Puerto Rico, which faces the possibility of a direct hit, warned that people in wooden or flimsy homes should find safe shelter before the storm’s expected arrival on Wednesday.
“You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you’re going to die. I don’t know how to make this any clearer,” said Hector Pesquera, the island’s public safety commissioner.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Puerto Rico had 500 shelters capable of taking in up to 133,000 people in a worst-case scenario. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was ready to bring drinking water and help restore power immediately after the storm.
“This is going to impact all of Puerto Rico with a force and violence that we haven’t seen for several generations,” he said. “We’re going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico. We’re going to have to rebuild.”
Follow along below for live updates on the storm. All times are Eastern unless otherwise noted.
5:46 p.m.: “Now appears likely” Maria will be Category 5 when it hits Puerto Rico
Hurricane center forecasters say it “now appears likely” that Maria will still be at Category 5 intensity when it moves over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.