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Hurricane Maria Leaves 'Mind-Boggling' Devastation

Storm now threatens Puerto Rico
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2017 4:17 AM CDT
Updated Sep 19, 2017 6:03 AM CDT
Hurricane Maria Causes 'Widespread Devastation'
This Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, GOES East satellite image provided by NASA taken at 20:30 UTC, shows the eye of Hurricane Maria as it nears Dominica. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday evening that Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter planes found that Maria had strengthened into a storm...   (NASA via AP)

(Newser) – Hurricane Maria slammed into Dominica as a Category 5 storm Monday night, causing what the Caribbean nation's prime minister calls "mind-boggling" damage. In a Facebook post, Roosevelt Skerrit said the storm had left "widespread devastation" and torn the roofs off many homes, including his own. "My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured," he said. In an earlier post, he said his house was flooded and he was at the "complete mercy of the hurricane." The National Hurricane Center says Maria, which hit Dominica with winds of up to 160mph, was downgraded to a Category 4 early Tuesday before regaining strength as a Category 5 again, reports Reuters.

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The NHC says the storm will remain an "extremely dangerous Category 4 or 5 hurricane while it approaches the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico." A state of emergency has been declared in Puerto Rico, where the storm is expected to hit Wednesday, CNN reports. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló tells USA Today that if the storms hits as forecast, it "will essentially devastate most of the island," causing far more damage than Hurricane Irma, which did not directly hit the island. Puerto Ricans in flimsy homes "have to evacuate. Otherwise, you're going to die," says Hector Pesquera, the island's public safety commissioner, per the AP. A state of emergency has also been declared in the US Virgin Islands, where Maria will be closest to St. Croix, the island that suffered the least damage from Irma. (Read more Hurricane Maria stories.)

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