Hurricane Maria leaves over 15 dead in Dominica
Video provided by AFP

LOĺZA, Puerto Rico — Glenda Fuentes thanked God and considered herself lucky when Hurricane Maria’s battering winds finally subsided. One of the most catastrophic events to ever hit Puerto Rico, she thought, was over.

Then the water came, battering her home in waves and quickly filling every room of her house. Within an hour, waist-high floodwaters had swallowed her home.

“It was disastrous,” said Fuentes, 58, who lives in the Miñi Miñi area of Loíza. “It came all at once and went through the entire house.”

Hurricane Maria tore through the middle of Puerto Rico early Wednesday with 150 mph sustained winds, splintering homes and crippling the island nation of 3.4 million. But floods brought on by the storm have been equally destructive and deadly. 

Along the north coast, places such as Loíza, Levittown, Toa Baja and Vega Baja were hit by deadly floods. People scrambled to rooftops as floods unleashed by the storm enveloped entire towns and rescue teams fought through the storm’s lingering winds to reach them.

In Toa Baja, one of the worst hit places, more than 4,000 people were rescued from the floods, many from rooftops, local officials said. At least eight people drowned there, including a family of four that sheltered in their home from the storm, an elderly couple and a state policeman and his son, the town’s mayor Bernardo “Betito” Márquez told El Nuevo Dia. 

More: Hurricane Maria bears down on Turks and Caicos islands before heading out to sea

More: Will Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. mainland? It’s unlikely, but not impossible

“Rain, lots of rain,” Márquez told the news site. “The swells go up and down but don’t go back out to sea. They stay. So the water just keeps rising.”

While moving away from Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria is so large it was expected to continue dumping rain on the island, with an extra 4 to 8 inches likely through Saturday. In some parts of the island, the total rainfall from the storm is expected to be up to 40 inches.


Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

The storm crippled this island nation, leaving many communities completely cut off by flood waters and impassable…