The U.S. territory could be without power for months
Puerto Rico has closed all three of its international airports in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which slammed into the island Wednesday and knocked out its entire electrical grid — possibly for months. A number of airlines are offering travel waivers to customers who purchased flights within the affected regions.
San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Aguadilla’s Rafael Hernández International Airport, and Ponce’s Mercedita International Airport — Puerto Rico’s most-used commercial airports — have been ordered closed at least until Friday due to flooding and debris, authorities said, according to NBC News.
As of Thursday, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United will allow passengers to reschedule their flights with little or no charge if their tickets fall within the carrier’s specified dates.
Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane and pummeled the U.S. territory with winds up to 155 miles per hour, leaving behind a trail of destroyed homes and widespread flooding. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, speaking to CNN, had called the storm the “worst hurricane in modern history.”
San Juan, the commonwealth’s capital and largest city, is in particularly bad shape.
“The San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there,” Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told MSNBC Thursday. “We’re looking at four to six months without electricity” in Puerto Rico, she added.
After battering Puerto Rico, Maria weakened to a Category 3 storm — still considered a “major” hurricane with winds around 115 miles per hour — and dumped heavy rain on parts of the Dominican Republic. Hurricane Maria’s path is now projected to reach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, the U.S National Hurricane Canter said early Thursday morning, with the potential to strengthen in warmer waters.
At least 10 people have been killed by Hurricane Maria as of Thursday morning. With Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million inhabitants still without power, the number could rise as communication around the island is gradually restored.