Puerto Rico digs out from Hurricane Maria as Category 3 storm barrels through Caribbean

The death toll in storm-battered areas is rising as Hurricane Maria continued to barrel through the Caribbean on Friday, two days after its landfall in Puerto Rico left the U.S. territory battered and in the dark.

Maria remained a major Category 3 hurricane Friday as of 5 p.m. ET, with 125 mph maximum sustained winds. The storm’s eye at the time was located 115 miles east-northeast of the eastern Bahamas, moving toward the northwest at 9 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

SLIDESHOW: Photos: Hurricane Maria pummels Puerto Rico, Caribbean


The death toll from the hurricane is at least 24, including 15 in Dominica, seven in Puerto Rico and two in Guadeloupe.

Maria came ashore in Puerto Rico early Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds — the first Category 4 to hit the island since 1932. The storm wiped out the island’s power grid and dumped 20 to 30 inches of rain in 24 hours, with some areas seeing 40 inches locally.

There is potential for the death toll in Puerto Rico to rise, the island’s Secretary of the Department of Safety said Friday.

Although Maria has hurtled past the island, Puerto Rico will see heavy rainfall through Saturday from the storm’s trailing rain bands, likely an additional 3 to 6 inches, according to the National Hurricane Center.

All available resources are being sent to evacuate people near Lake Guajataca after a dam collapsed, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said in a press conference Friday afternoon. An estimated 70,000 people could be affected by the collapse of the dam.

Water supplies on the island are down because of the lack of power, Rossello said. In addition, the water agency suffered “severe damage,” he said.

Rossello has also extended a curfew and ban on alcohol sales on the island from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. ET through Sunday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo departed for Puerto Rico on Friday to bring donated supplies to the island and assess the need, after Puerto Rico’s governor made a request for aid. Cuomo traveled with members of the National Guard as well as New York Congresswoman and Puerto Rico native Nydia Velázquez.

Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images
A resident surveys the damage to her property after Hurricane Maria made landfall, Sept. 21, 2017, in the Guaynabo suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Residents of Puerto Rico’s hard-hit north coast were seen wading through floodwater inside what’s left of their homes.

Every vulnerable house should be considered “completely or…

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