Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm causing widespread damage to the U.S. territory’s infrastructure, including the electrical grid. The entire island of 3.5 million residents is completely without power, according to Abner Gómez, the head of Puerto Rico’s emergency and disaster management agency known as AEMEAD.
Puerto Rico’s telecommunications system was also failing, according to reports from local officials.
Power outages began early Wednesday morning and worsened throughout the day. An early tweet from Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority noted that 884,000 customers were without power. By midday, damage caused by Hurricane Maria left the entire island without power.
Hurricane Maria made landfall near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour (250 km per hour), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday.
While the eye of Hurricane Maria has left Puerto Rico, officials warn that the danger is not over. Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello described this as the worst storm to ever hit Puerto Rico in various news interviews Wednesday. Officials, including Rossello, said life-threatening flooding from storm surge and rainfall is expected as Hurricane Maria continues along its path.
Rossello tweeted Wednesday that he has asked President Donald Trump to declare the island a disaster area.
Before Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, Trump tweeted Tuesday night that the U.S. “will be there to help.”
Hurricane Maria promises to compound the electric utility’s financial woes. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, weighed down by a $9 billion debt load, has filed for a form of bankruptcy in July. Some residents were still without power after Hurricane Irma passed north of Puerto Rico Sept. 6, according to NBC News.