Maria Strikes, and Puerto Rico Goes Dark – New York Times

 In World

Such was the sentiment across the island as the barrage of howling gusts and pounding rain did not cease from the early morning until evening.


San Juan, P.R., after Hurricane Maria knocked out Puerto Rico’s power grid on Wednesday.

Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Francisco Ramirez, 23, weathered the storm inside the convenience store of a gas station in Guaynabo. As a security guard at the station, he was scheduled for the 8 p.m. shift on Tuesday, hours before Maria hit. He sat behind a counter while the storm raged outside and water seeped in beneath the doors. Winds peeled off the aluminum roof piece by piece throughout the night, and knocked over several gas pumps.

“It felt like a tornado, as if the roof was going to come off,” Mr. Ramirez said.

Thousands of residents fled the winds and rain and hunkered down in stronger buildings. More than 500 shelters have been opened in Puerto Rico, but Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said he could not vouch for the storm-worthiness of those structures.

About 600 people took refuge in one of the biggest shelters, the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan. Witnesses said that the arena’s roof had come off and that the shelter lacked electricity and running water.

“It’s looking ugly, ugly, ugly over here,” Shania Vargas, a resident of Carolina who had taken shelter in the arena, said in a telephone interview.

Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of San Juan remained at the shelter with residents as the hurricane struck. She told people there that there had been widespread flooding in the city, and said in a video posted to Twitter that “as uncomfortable as we are, we are better off than any other place.”

Elsewhere in the capital, tree trunks and electricity poles had snapped like twigs, obstructing major highways and winding mountain roads alike. If an exit was not blocked by foliage, then it was flooded. Power lines thrashed in the high winds. The commercial Roosevelt Avenue had water up to the waist.

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