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Puerto Rico 'Destroyed' by Maria: Power Gone, Telecom 'Collapsed'

Hurricane Maria 5
Hurricane Maria 5

First responders are out on the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico after the strongest storm in 83 years slammed into the Caribbean island.

Hurricane Maria destroyed hundreds of homes, snapped trees, tore off roofs and dumped more than 30 inches of rain in less than 24 hours.

And that rain will continue to soak parts of the island even as the center of the hurricane moves away. The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings saying the region may see an additional 4 to 8 inches of rain through the weekend.

With electricity knocked out for the entire territory, the governor says his island is completely "destroyed" and that widespread flooding has made it impossible to get to some of the hardest hit areas.

Sebastian Perez, a photojournalist based in San Juan, captured some dramatic images of flooded streets and widespread destruction.

At least 18 people have died in the storm, including more than 15 in Dominica, two in Guadeloupe and one in Puerto Rico.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says 20 people remain missing. He cried as he spoke to a reporter about the deaths caused by the storm and called it a miracle that hundreds of people did not die.

Residents of Puerto Rico joined firefighters as they fanned out across the capital clearing wood and debris from the streets.

READ: WeatherBELL Meteorologist: Carolinas, Virginia, New Jersey 'may have to deal with Maria'
"This is my apartment, first time I'm coming inside," said one devastated resident of San Juan as he walked through his destroyed home. "This is very sad."

As people took stock of the damage, officials are warning it could be months before power is restored on the island. And one official said telecommunications had "collapsed."

A curfew has been imposed on the island from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. through the weekend.

President Trump tweeted the island's governor expressing his concerns for the safety of its residents.

"We are with you and the people of Puerto Rico," tweeted the president. "Stay safe!"
With hotels, ballrooms, shelters and sports arenas quickly filling up with the homeless, some are singing about finding strength through the storm. They'll need it as the recovery and cleanup slowly gets underway.

The hurricane came ashore off Puerto Rico's northwest coast Wednesday packing winds of 155 miles per hour- just two miles an hour under a Category 5.
The storm was weakened by that landfall, but then regained strength as it moved back over open water, on course to slam into Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic. Folks in the storm's path made their preparations.
"I came here to the gas station filled up my tanks. After here I'm going to the food store, to stock up on some food. And I'll be good from there," said Tory Deal, a resident of Turks and Caicos.

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