Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and cut power to the entire island — here’s what it looks like on the ground

Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico at 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday as the third-strongest hurricane to ever hit the US.

The direct hit caused widespread destruction.

“The San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer here,” Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told MSNBC on Wednesday night, adding that Puerto Rico, home to some 3.5 million people, was “looking at four to six months without electricity.”

Rescue attempts are ongoing, and it’ll be some time before the full scope of the damage is known, but some early images have begun to emerge.

Here’s what it looks like on the ground.


Hurricane Maria made landfall on the southeastern corner of Puerto Rico as a powerful Category 4 storm with 155-mph winds on Wednesday morning.

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Maria damaged a supermarketin Guayama, Puerto Rico.
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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The storm’s winds knocked down power lines, causing outages for 100% of the island.

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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Many roofs were ripped off homes, businesses, and other buildings.

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A man looking for valuables in the damaged house of a relative in Guayama.
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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The National Weather Service measured wind gusts of over 200 mph before Maria made landfall. But many wind gauges broke during the storm, so we may never know how strong they were on this island.

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Felled trees covering the roads in the Miramar neighborhood of San Juan.
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Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Source: NWS San Diego


Cellphone communications failed as towers went down, leaving people waiting to find out if their loved ones were safe.

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A man runs on the street next to debris and damaged cars in Guayama on Wednesday.
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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

No deaths have been reported in Puerto Rico so far, though that may change. Hurricane Maria has killed at least 17 people on its journey through the Caribbean.

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A man walking close to damaged houses in Guayama.
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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Much of Puerto Rico saw feet of rain. Caguas, in the central eastern part of the island, had seen 37.74 inches of rain by Thursday morning. Some of the rain gauges lost transmission in the conditions.


Over a dozen rivers flooded, some to record levels. Many flood gauges also broke as rivers waters rose 20 to 30 feet in some cases.


The storm surge, which refers to the waves blown ashore by a hurricane’s strong winds, was expected to reach 6 to 9 feet above normal levels on the coasts.

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A boat a flooded street in Puerto de Jobos.
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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Thousands of people fled their homes and sought refuge in shelters to wait out the storm.


Gov. Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico announced Wednesday afternoon that he was instituting a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday.


Rescue workers spent Thursday navigating floodwaters and debris to find survivors and bring them to safety.

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Emergency crews move through a flooded highway in Miramar.
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Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

The storm damaged some emergency vehicles, though, making rescue workers’ jobs even harder.


Debris littered the roads, which must be cleared before emergency workers can venture further to find people.

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Felled trees in Miramar on Wednesday.
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Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

It could be weeks or months before Puerto Ricans get electricity again. Before Maria hit, nearly 1 million people lost power when Hurricane Irma tore through the island.

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Areas of San Juan had blackouts on Wednesday.
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Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Without power or backup generators, Puerto Ricans can’t run air conditioners, keep life-preserving hospital equipment on, or charge phones to communicate. Because power can also keep water running, many were without that utility on Thursday.


The strong winds destroyed many crops as well, including this banana plantation in Guayama, on the southern coast.

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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

At the height of the storm, Hurricane Maria engulfed the entire island, which is 3,515 square miles.


It will probably take months for Puerto Rico to recover. “Our town was hit but we will rise,” San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, tweeted on Wednesday night. “Thank you for your solidarity.”

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A woman reacts while she looks at the damages in the house of her mother after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017.
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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Source: Twitter