Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico Reels As Storm Turns Toward US East Coast

Millions of Puerto Rico residents continue to reel from Hurricane Maria as the National Weather Service says the storm could bring “direct impacts” to the US East Coast in the coming days.

At least 10 people on the island have been confirmed killed by the storm, according to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s office.

Much of the US commonwealth is without power and many residents are without running water. Officials have evacuated towns near the Guajataca River on the northwest part of the island, due to fears a dam could collapse.

The National Hurricane Center warns the storm is marching toward the US East Coast.

“It becoming increasingly likely that some direct impacts will occur along portions of the coast next week,” the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory on Saturday. “Interests in the Bahamas and along the Carolina and Mid-Atlantic coasts should monitor the progress of Maria.”

Forecasters expect “dangerous surf and rip currents” along southeastern US beaches over the next several days.

“Swells from Maria are increasing along the coast of the southeastern United States and are expected to reach the mid-Atlantic coast tonight and on Sunday . … These swells will likely cause dangerous surf and rip currents at the beach through much of next week,” the hurricane center said.

The Category 3 storm is carrying maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and is 245 miles east of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. It is moving at 8 miles (13 kilometers) per hour.

“Maria will move away from the Bahamas into the open waters of the western Atlantic today,” the center said.

Indonesia: Bali Volcano Highest Alert Issued

Indonesia has issued its highest level alert for a volcano on Bali, warning that an eruption on the popular tourist island could be imminent.

About 10,000 people have already been evacuated, with officials urging people to stay at least nine kilometres (5.6 miles) away from Mount Agung.

Tremors have been reported, and there are indications that magma is rising to the surface, the officials say.

More than 1,000 people died when Mount Agung last erupted in 1963.

“There should be zero public activity within the specified radius in case there is an eruption,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency was quoted as saying by Reuters.
One villager, I Wayan Suwarjana, told the AFP news agency: “Tremors happen very often, so we are afraid and I have taken all my family members to the refugee shelter.”

Early on Saturday, officials said that increased seismic activity was ongoing, hours after the alert level was raised.

The latest report from Indonesia’s volcano observatory for aviation said the likelihood of an eruption appears to be increasing. But it added that eruptions cannot be predicted with perfect accuracy.

Bali’s international airport in Denpasar, which is used by millions of foreign tourists each year, is currently operating as normal, the officials say.

Australia’s department of foreign affairs has issued an advisory for the region, warning travellers that a possible eruption could severely disrupt air travel.

Predictions about the potential eruption are based on the one in 1963, which saw the volcano expel large amounts of debris and extensive lava flows.
It also involved a pyroclastic flow – a dangerous fast-moving hot cloud of gas, ash and volcanic matter.

Mount Agung, which is more than 3,000m above sea level, lies in the eastern part of Bali.

It is among about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia – an archipelago prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes as it sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”.

New Mexico Earthquake Topples Homes And Causes Fresh Alarm

A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, toppling already damaged homes and a highway bridge and causing new alarm in a country reeling from two even more powerful quakes this month that together have killed nearly 400 people.

The US Geological Survey said the new magnitude 6.1 temblor was centered about 11 miles (18km) south-southeast of Matias Romero in the state of Oaxaca, the region most battered by a magnitude 8.1 quake on 7 September.

It was among thousands of aftershocks recorded in the wake of that earlier quake, which was the most powerful to hit Mexico in 32 years and killed at least 90 people.

There was some damage in Oaxaca but no immediate reports of new deaths. The federal police agency posted images online showing a collapsed bridge that it said had already been closed due to damage after the 7 September quake.

Bettina Cruz, a resident of Juchitan, Oaxaca, said by phone with her voice still shaking that the new quake felt “horrible”.

She said: “Homes that were still standing just fell down. It’s hard. We are all in the streets.”

Cruz belongs to a social collective and said that when the shaking began, she was riding in a truck carrying supplies to victims of the earlier quake.

Nataniel Hernandez said by phone from Tonala, in the southern state of Chiapas, which was also hit hard by the earlier quake, that it was one of the strongest aftershocks he has felt. “Since 7 September it has not stopped shaking,” he said.

USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso said the new temblor was an aftershock of the 8.1 quake, and after a jolt of that size even buildings left standing can be more vulnerable.

“So a smaller earthquake can cause the damaged buildings to fail,” Caruso said.

President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted: “At the moment the greatest damage has been to the Ixtaltepec bridge, which should be rebuilt, and structures with previous damage that collapsed.” He said government workers were fanning out in Juchitan to provide help to anyone who needs it.

Mexico earthquake: military criticized over search and rescue missions – as it happened
Armed forces sparked anger by razing collapsed buildings less than 72 hours after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake killed at least 250 people
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Jaime Hernandez, director of the Federal Electrical Commission, said the quake knocked out power to 327,000 homes and businesses in Oaxaca but service had been restored to 72% of customers within a few hours.

Buildings swayed in Mexico City, where nerves are still raw from Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 tremor that has killed at least 305 across the region. Many residents and visitors fled homes, hotels and businesses, some in tears. At the Xoco general hospital, which is treating the largest number of quake victims, workers ordered visitors to evacuate when seismic alarms began to blare.

That included Syntia Pereda, 43, who was reluctant to leave the bedside of her sleeping boyfriend. Jesus Gonzalez, 49, fell from a third-story balcony of a building where he was working during Tuesday’s quake and was awaiting surgery. But she controlled her emotions, went outside and came back when the trembling was over.

“We are getting used to this,” Pereda said. “Every so often we hear the alarm, you say, well, it is God’s will.”

Alejandra Castellanos was on the second floor of a hotel in a central neighborhood of Mexico City and ran down the stairs and outside with her husband. “I was frightened because I thought, not again!” Castellanos said.

Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said there were no reports of significant new damage in the capital, and rescue efforts related to Tuesday’s quake were continuing. He reported that two people died of apparent heart attacks during the new temblor.

At the site of an office building that collapsed on Tuesday and where an around-the-clock search for survivors was continuing, rescuers briefly evacuated from atop the pile of rubble after the morning quake before returning to work.

As rescue operations stretched into day five, residents throughout the capital held out hope that dozens still missing might be found alive. More than half the dead 167 perished in the capital, while 73 died in the state of Morelos, 45 in Puebla, 13 in Mexico State, six in Guerrero and one in Oaxaca.

Frida Sofía, age 12: the Mexico City quake ‘survivor’ who was never there
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Along a 60ft stretch of a bike lane in Mexico City, families huddled under tarps and donated blankets, awaiting word of loved ones trapped in the four-story-high pile of rubble behind them.

“There are moments when you feel like you’re breaking down,” said Patricia Fernandez Romero, who was waiting for word on the fate of her 27-year-old son. “And there are moments when you’re a little calmer. They are all moments that you wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

Families have been sleeping in tents, accepting food and coffee from strangers, people have organized to present a united front to authorities, who they pressed ceaselessly for information. They were told that water and food had been passed along to at least some of those trapped inside.

On Friday morning, after hours of inactivity blamed on rain, rescuers were readying to re-enter the site, joined by teams from Japan and Israel. Fernandez said officials told them they knew where people were trapped on the fourth floor. It’s the moments between those bits of information that torment the families.

“It’s that you get to a point when you’re so tense, when they don’t come out to give us information,” she said. “It’s so infuriating.”

Puerto Rico Cleans Up As Turks And Caicos Brace For Hurricane Maria

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The large eye of Hurricane Maria lumbered toward the popular vacation islands of Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas on Thursday, leaving Puerto Rico and its Caribbean neighbors battered, drenched and largely without power.

The core of Maria, a major hurricane, is forecast to pass just east of the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas early Friday.

The Category 3 storm has sustained winds of 125 mph, the US National Hurricane Center said.

In just 24 hours, Maria dumped almost 40 inches of rain on parts of Puerto Rico, where millions of residents won’t have power for months. Most of the island saw more than a foot of precipitation as Maria turned streets into raging rivers.

The storm brought down trees and poured up to 6 inches of rain on the Dominican Republic as the eyewall passed to the east.

Many Puerto Ricans spent Thursday cleaning up. A man in the La Perla area of San Juan told CNN he still had his faith. “It’s incredible … but I believe in God, and we can do anything with the help of God,” Roberto Caballero said.

CNN teams in San Juan saw that some shops were open. All had long lines.

Maria has brought misery to many Caribbean Islands and death to Dominica, where at least 15 people were killed when the storm passed earlier this week, according to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
Here’s the latest on Maria’s destruction, and what’s next.

Dominican Republic gets thrashed

Although Maria is drifting away from the Dominican Republic, parts of the country are still seeing hurricane conditions, the National Hurricane Center said.

“A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet” in parts of the Dominican Republic — where rivers were still swollen from Hurricane Irma, forecasters said. Haiti, on the western part of the island, could see a storm surge of up to 3 feet.

Maria will likely strengthen as it moves across warm water, endangering low-lying islands with enormous storm surges. And the Turks and Caicos could see as much as 20 inches of rainfall, the hurricane center said.

Maria could affect the US East Coast by early next week with high surf, dangerous rip currents and windy conditions. Depending on its path, the system could also bring rain from the mid-Atlantic to Massachusetts, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

Puerto Rico: Power system ‘basically … destroyed’

Puerto Ricans might not get power back for four to six months, said Ricardo Ramos, the CEO of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

“The system has been basically destroyed,” Ramos told CNN. He said hospitals and water systems will get priority power restoration.

The island’s largest airport, the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, will be open to commercial traffic Friday, according to Aerostar Puerto Rico, which manages the airport near San Juan.

Emergency generators will power the limited operations, and there will be no air conditioning, the operator said.

President Donald Trump told reporters that he will visit Puerto Rico, a US commonwealth, but did not detail when.

“Puerto Rico was absolutely obliterated,” Trump said. “We’ll work with the governor and the people of Puerto Rico.”

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Maria is the “most devastating storm to hit the island this century, if not in modern history.”

Puerto Rico has been through a long recession and is deeply in debt. Before the storm hit, the state-owned power grid was “a little bit old, mishandled and weak,” the governor said.

Retired Army veteran Manuel Torres called Maria’s devastation the worst he’d ever seen. His mother’s house in La Perla, an oceanfront community in old San Juan, was destroyed.

Emerging after the storm had passed, Torres found the three-story home reduced to two stories.

Angela Magaña, a UFC fighter who lives in the area, said neighbors were helping each other.

“We need cleanup, water, food, and generators,” she told CNN. “There are a lot of old people here who are going without necessities. We need to rebuild and restructure, and we need prayers. Any kind of help we can get because it’s a mess right now.”

Dozens of families were rescued from flooding Thursday in Levittown, near the capital city of San Juan, a spokeswoman for the Puerto Rican governor tweeted. The Puerto Rican National Guard was still searching for others in need of rescue, she said.

Cassidy Spooner, a tourist from Jacksonville, Florida, came upon animals as she was checking out the damage in Luquillo on Thursday.

“The dog was looking for food. I saw her find raw bacon in the street and eat it,” she said. Spooner told CNN she saw kittens and cats near a house nearby that appeared to have cat food, but the felines looked skinny and scared.

Neighbors were trying to take care of the animals, she said.

Army Reserve Brig. Gen Dustin Shultz told “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon” there are 4,500 reserve soldiers on Puerto Rico to assist the National Guard.

Dominica: ‘The need is great’

Prime Minister Skerrit said Dominica was almost completely devastated.

“First of all, every village in Dominica, every street in Dominica … is affected by the hurricane,” he told ABS TV/Radio, based in Antigua and Barbuda. “We have no running water, no electricity, no power, we have very limited communication services.” Skerrit’s own home was demolished in the storm.

There is desperate need for food, water and medical supplies on the island of 73,000 residents, officials said.

“The need is great,” said Philmore Mullin, head of Antigua and Barbuda’s National Office of Disaster Services. “We know of casualties, but not in detail. We’ve heard of many missing, but we just don’t know much at the moment.”

Skerrit is “homeless” and “bunking up in an area called St. Aroment,” government spokesman Charles Jong said.

A flight Wednesday over Dominica showed thousands of trees had been snapped and were strewn across the landscape, leaving the island stripped of vegetation.

US Virgin Islands: 24-hour curfew in place

Maria also annihilated homes on the US Virgin Islands. On Thursday, Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp announced a 24-hour curfew, effective immediately, on the four main US Virgin Islands — St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island.

“Your presence on the roads during the curfew hours will only hamper clean-up efforts and could delay the distribution of critically needed supplies,” Mapp said.

One of the hardest hit islands was St. Croix. Maria didn’t just obliterate homes, it knocked out vital communication lines, resident Murillo Melo said.

“Here on the island and on the mainland, people are trying to get in contact with friends and relatives,” he said. “People are desperate to get some news from their friends and relatives.”

Trump declared the US Virgin Islands a major disaster area and ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts.

UPDATE: Mexico Quake Fallout Has Been Personally Disturbing

As mentioned in yesterday’s article, an elementary school had collapsed as a result of the mag. 7.1 quake just south of Mexico City. It is hard for me to report on casualties related to any disaster, but when it comes to children, my emotions become a bit overwhelming. As many of you know, I have two young children, Alexa age 9 and Sophia age 5. Among my activities, I volunteer as a WatchDog at their elementary school (which I encourage every father to participate), giving me a great opportunity to enter-act with these bright beautiful children.

You might have guessed where I have been over the last several days last week… Yes, I got the call to venture off to Georgia dealing with that nasty Irma. Just got a call to head to Mexico, but this time my answer was ‘no’. We all have our limits and or, Achilles heel, mine is children. Perhaps I’m reacting to my own PTSD, or perhaps I’m just getting a bit older, or I just love my kids so much I would rather stay home with them and my wife being damn grateful we are all safe…for this time around.

As an aside, the Mexico City Emergency Management Team is well qualified, and it just so happened they were just completing ‘active scenario training’ at the time of this 7.1 quake.

More than 300 children were studying in their classrooms at Enrique Rébsamen primary school, in Mexico City’s southern Coapa district when the earth started violently shaking.

In an instant, concrete walls and ceilings in parts of the school came crashing down, crushing students as young as first-graders. Neighbors, relatives of the children and even a passing taxi driver rushed toward the giant plume of dust, prying away debris with their bare hands, desperately searching for any sign of life Tuesday afternoon. They worked through the night.

By Wednesday morning, rescuers had carried out at least 25 bodies, twenty-one of them were students with names like Daniela, Diana and Oscar. They were all believed to be 7 or 8 years old and were still dressed in their white and black school uniforms.

Those killed at the school were among at least 230 people who perished across five states in Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake. Dozens of buildings collapsed across central Mexico, including large office buildings and apartment towers in Mexico City.

Details of the girl located on Wednesday have not been given. Rescuers detected her after she moved her hand and a hose was lowered to supply her with water.

Civil Protection volunteer Enrique Gardia told the assembled crowd that a thermal scanner had detected several survivors trapped between slabs of concrete.

“They are alive! Alive!” he shouted. “Someone hit a wall several times in one place, and in another there was a response to light signals with a lamp,” he added.

One mother, standing nearby waiting for news of her seven-year-old daughter, told reporters: “No-one can possibly imagine the pain I’m in right now.”

At least 209 schools were affected by the quake, 15 of which have suffered severe damage.

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NOTE:I am sending money and supplies to some connections I have made in Mexico. If you can help in making those who have been directly affected, go to the bottom of this article and click on the donation banner.

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Popocatépetl Volcano Activity

The National Center for Disaster Prevention reported that, so far, there has not been an increase in the activity of the Popocatépetl volcano and remains at Alert Level ‘Advisory’ and Aviation code ‘Orange’.  The most recent report indicated the monitoring systems identified 256 low intensity exhalations, one explosion, as well as 15 volcano-tectonic earthquakes with magnitudes between 1.5 and 2.5.

During the night, no incandescence was noticed on the crater and since the morning of this Wednesday the volcano has been observed with a weak emission of water vapor and gas.

From dawn and up to the time of this report the volcano has been seen with a weak emission of steam and gas. NCDP emphasizes that people ‘Should Not’ go near the volcano, especially near the crater, due to the hazard caused by ballistic fragments.

The scenarios foreseen for this phase are:

Explosive activity of low to intermediate level – Ash fall in nearby towns – Possibility of short range pyroclastic flows and mudflows.

Special emphasis is placed on the following recommendations:

Continue the safety radius of 12 km, so staying in that area is not allowed – Keep the controlled traffic between Santiago Xalitzintla and San Pedro Nexapa through Paso de Cortés – Civil Protection authorities, keep your preventive procedures, in accordance with their operational plans – People, be alert to the official information disseminated.

In case of ashfall, address the following recommendations:

Cover nose and mouth with a wet handkerchief or face mask – Clean eyes and throat with pure water – Avoid contact lenses to reduce eye irritation – Close windows or cover them up, and stay indoors as much as possible.

Popocatepetl Volcano monitoring is performed continuously 24 hours a day. Any change in activity will be reported in due course.

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Bali’s Mt. Agung Volcano Threatens to Erupt

A marked increase in the number of earthquakes happening below Mount Agung volcano in eastern Bali, Indonesia, over the past few weeks has authorities keeping a close watch on the situation. Stopping just short of calling for evacuations, the latest alert issued by the national and local government agencies now forbids climbing of the mountain and orders evacuations within 7.5 km of the summit.

Although infrequent, eruptions of Mt Agung have been among the largest of the past 100 years of global volcanic activity. More than 1,000 people died during the last eruption in 1963.

Our ability to predict eruptions has improved dramatically since this last event, so we can hope such a death toll will not occur again.

Mt. Agung is one of many similar volcanoes in Indonesia and the Ring of Fire surrounding the Pacific and eastern Indian oceans. But during its sporadic eruptions, Agung has been one of the most prominent injectors of volcanic ash and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

This type of activity can have effects that are more widely felt than by just the population of Bali.

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Earthquakes on the Rise Near Yellowstone Supervolcano

Recent data from the University of Utah shows the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park has seen a spike in earthquakes. Miles underneath the park sits one of the world’s largest volcanoes, known as the Yellowstone super volcano.

According to FOX31’s sister station, there have been 1,200 earthquakes in the park since the beginning of June. Jamie Farrell, Research Professor of Seismology at the University of Utah, says this is a large swarm, but adds the activity is otherwise pretty normal for the volcanic area.

“We get a lot of calls as to whether people should cancel plans to go to Yellowstone and the answer is decisively no,” he said. “This is how volcanoes act, and it’s pretty normal.”

Researchers say that there are typically between 1,500 and 2,000 earthquakes a year in Yellowstone.

 

Science Of Cycles Research Support Fund

 

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Science Of Cycles Multi-Disaster Relief Initiative

Be a part of Science Of Cycles Multi-Disaster Relief Initiative. Lets come together and help those who need a helping hand. Notice I did not specify a hurricane name, why? Because there is more than Harvey and Irma heading our way. The banner is set up for you to be able to place any amount you wish.   Cheers, Mitch

 

 

José Brings Dangerous Rip Currents To East Coast

José retained its hurricane status Tuesday as it stirred up dangerous surf and rip currents off the East Coast.

The storm’s center was about 365 miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, moving north at 9 mph with sustained winds of 75 mph.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the coast of Long Island, New York, from Fire Island Inlet to Port Jefferson, and also from New Haven to Watch Hill in Rhode Island.

New York state officials have deployed members of the National Guard and emergency response units to Long Island to prepare for potentially severe weather caused by the Category 1 storm.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 100 members of the National Guard, 13 members of an urban search-and-rescue team, and 20 high-axle vehicles will set up a command post at a welcome center on the Long Island Expressway in Dix Hills in Suffolk County.

He said the facility will be open to members of the public seeking shelter during severe weather.

Cuomo planned to hold a storm briefing at the welcome center Tuesday morning.

The surf remains rough along the Jersey Shore and there’s a chance for some coastal flooding, but the strong winds associated with the storm are well off the coast.

A high-surf advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday and a coastal flood warning is posted until 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Wave heights off the coast could build to 15 feet, while breaking waves along the coast are expected to reach 8 to 10 feet.

Forecasters expect José to weaken to a tropical storm by Wednesday, when it will pass by New Jersey before moving south of Massachusetts the next day.

Hurricane Maria Ravages Puerto Rico, Knocks Out All Power

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and triggered heavy flooding Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis.

APTOPIX Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria

Leaving at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria blew ashore in the morning in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph (250 kph).

It was expected to punish the island of 3.4 million people with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours.

“Once we’re able to go outside, we’re going to find our island destroyed,” warned Abner Gomez, Puerto Rico’s emergency management director. “The information we have received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything in its path.”

It was the second time in two weeks that Puerto Rico felt the wrath of a hurricane.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries on the island.

As people waited it out in shelters or took cover inside stairwells, bathrooms and closets, Maria brought down cell towers and power lines, snapped trees, tore off roofs and unloaded at least 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain.

Widespread flooding was reported, with dozens of cars half-submerged in some neighborhoods and many streets turned into rivers. People calling local radio stations reported that doors were being torn off their hinges and a water tank flew away.

Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press that 80 percent of the 454 homes in a neighborhood known as Juana Matos were destroyed. The fishing community on San Juan Bay was hit with a storm surge of more than 4 feet, he said.

“Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this,” he said.

As of 5 p.m. EDT, Maria had weakened into a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 110 mph (175 kph). It was centered just off the northwestern corner of Puerto Rico, moving at 12 mph (19 kph).

It was expected to pass off the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic late Wednesday and Thursday.

Even before the storm, Puerto Rico’s electrical grid was crumbling and the island was in dire condition financially.

Puerto Rico is struggling to restructure a portion of its $73 billion debt, and the government has warned it is running out of money as it fights back against furloughs and other austerity measures imposed by a federal board overseeing the island’s finances.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello urged people to have faith: “We are stronger than any hurricane. Together, we will rebuild.”

He asked President Donald Trump to declare the island a disaster zone, a step that would open the way to federal aid.

Many people feared extended power outages would further sink businesses struggling amid a recession that has lasted more than a decade.

“This is going to be a disaster,” said Jean Robert Auguste, who owns two French restaurants and sought shelter at a San Juan hotel. “We haven’t made any money this month.”

More than 11,000 people – and more than 580 pets – were in shelters, authorities said.

Along the island’s northern coast, an emergency medical station in the town of Arecibo lost its roof, while communication was severed with several emergency management posts. A hospital and a police station reported broken windows, and a tree fell on an ambulance.

As the storm closed in on the Dominican Republic, about 4,000 tourists in the Bavara-Punta Cana area on the eastern tip of the island were moved to hotels in Santo Domingo, the capital.

Maria posed no immediate threat to the U.S. mainland. The long-range forecast showed the storm out in the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles off the Georgia-South Carolina coast by Monday morning.

Previously a Category 5 with 175 mph (281 kph) winds, Maria hit Puerto Rico as the third-strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S., based on its central pressure. It was even stronger than Hurricane Irma when Irma roared into the Florida Keys earlier this month.

Irma sideswiped Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, causing no deaths or widespread damage on the island but leaving more than 1 million people without electricity. More than 70,000 still had no power as Maria approached.

The last Category 4 hurricane to blow ashore in Puerto Rico was in 1932, and the strongest ever to hit the island was San Felipe in 1928 with winds of 160 mph (250 kph).

As Maria closed in, Trump offered his support via Twitter: “Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you – will be there to help!”

The storm’s center passed near or over St. Croix overnight Tuesday, prompting U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp to warn people to sleep in their street clothes and shoes just in case. St. Croix was largely spared by Irma.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries on St. Croix, but it was still too dangerous Wednesday to venture out and conduct a thorough check, said Nykole Tyson, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Operations Center.

On the island of Dominica, which got slammed late Monday, Hartley Henry, an adviser to the prime minister, reported at least seven deaths and a “tremendous loss of housing and public buildings.” He said the country was “in a daze,” with no electricity and little to no communications.

Dominica’s airport and seaports remained closed, and authorities used helicopters to carry emergency food, water and shelter materials to the island, said Ronald Jackson, head of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency.