Posted: Sep 19, 2017 08:03 AM MDT
Updated: Sep 26, 2017 09:50 AM MDT
Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico last week, whipping the island with Irma-level winds, drenching it in Harvey-level flooding, crippling communications, decimating buildings.
Damaged homes in Progreso Barrio Pulguillas, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 24, 2017, after Hurricane Maria ripped through the area.
A damaged dam is putting downstream residents at risk of catastrophe.
An aerial view of some of the widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Maria on the island of Puerto Rico.
A building damaged heavily by Hurricane Maria.
Cars are seen underwater in Puerto Rico.
Damage to the island of Dominica was severe, with 99 percent of buildings affected.
Damage to buildings seen in Puerto Rico.
Sept. 20, 2017: Hurricane Maria made landfall in southeast Puerto Rico, ripping trees out of the ground and entangling two-thirds of the island in hurricane-force winds.
Hurricane Maria bears down on Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 in San Juan. Thousands of people have sought refuge in shelters, and electricity and phone lines have been severely affected.
A dog roams the streets of the La Perla neighborhood in Old San Juan as residents prepared for a direct hit from Hurricane Maria on in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is saying Maria could be the "most catastrophic hurricane to hit" the U.S. territory in a century.
Maria is expected to cause widespread power outages across Puerto Rico. Shortly after landfall, the storm had wiped out power in the east coast city of Fajardo.
Maria became the first hurricane of Category 4 strength or higher in nearly 80 years to hit the US territory, home to 3.3 million people.
Hurricane Maria, making its first landfall as a Category 5 storm, has blasted Dominica with "widespread devastation," according to the prime minister of the Caribbean island nation.
With the US territory of Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands now in its path, Maria's powerful punch diminished slightly to Category 4 after it hit Dominica Monday night, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). But the NHC said Tuesday morning after an Air Force "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft flew into the storm, Maria had reintensified to Category 5 status, with estimated maximum sustained winds of 160 mph.
Hurricane Maria is the strongest storm on record to make landfall in Dominica, and it would be the first Category 4 or greater hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years.
Puerto Rico's governor, Ricardo Rossell, has declared a state of emergency ahead of that landfall, which will likely happen Wednesday. A hurricane warning from the NHC remains in effect for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques.
Maria went from a tropical storm to a Category 5 -- the highest level on the scale used by meteorologists -- in just 30 hours. Its top winds were at 65 mph at 2 p.m. on Sunday but had exploded to the Category 5 status of 160 mph by 8 p.m. on Monday, according to the NHC.