Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price supposedly took five separate private jet flights for government business last week that cost thousands of dollars, even though he once openly criticized Congress for authorizing the funding for private planes, according to CNBC. Price has often boasted himself as a fiscal conservative with an adamant take on cutting spending, but those rules don't seem to apply to his personal schedule since the flights cost at least $60,000, according to Politico. The travel included an estimated $25,000 two-hour total round trip from Washington to nearby Philadelphia. The two previous HHS secretaries who served before Price usually took commercial flights...
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could have fined Wells Fargo more than $10 billion for its illegal sales practices scandal but instead settled for $100 million, according to documents released by Congressional Republicans on Tuesday
Mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor could speak in the United States Congress to help with a campaign to extend the legal protections enjoyed by boxers to MMA fighters, according to Congressman Markwayne Mullin.
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel credits good healthcare to saving the life of his newborn son. That led Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a medical doctor, to say that any replacement of the Affordable Care Act should pass "The Jimmy Kimmel Test." Now, Kimmel says Cassidy has fallen short of that with his new bill being considered by Congress.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could have fined Wells Fargo in excess of $10 billion for its illegal sales practices but instead settled for $100 million, according to the agency's internal documents released by Congressional Republicans this week.
Storm pummels Puerto Rico and leaves island of Dominica devastated
The National Hurricane Center reports that the center of the hurricane was detected “just offshore” the northwest coast of Puerto Rico around 2pm ET. It will move away from the coast this afternoon, according to the NHC. “The center will then pass offshore of the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic tonight and Thursday and then move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas Thursday night and Friday,” the update said.
2:00pm - 's eye has emerged off the NW coastline. Pressure rose +43hPa from the last recon observation b/f landfall.
Reporter Alex Dick-Read writes to the Guardian from Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands, where it has been tough to find a cell phone signal. He says the communication is very difficult there and a strict curfew is being enforced. “Overall it seems we got fairly lucky – nothing near as bad as Irma,” he said, noting that the hurricane passed a bit south of the city.
The National aeronautics and space administration (Nasa) released video of Maria from above Puerto Rico.
Satellite video shows eye of Hurricane moving over Puerto Rico.
Animation from Sept. 17-20 satellite imagery shows Hurricane weakening & strengthened to a Category 5:
The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, said he has asked Donald Trump to declare the US territory a disaster zone.
Informo al Pueblo que acabo de solicitarle al Presidente Trump que declare a Puerto Rico Zona de Desastre
The Associated Press shared updates from local news in Puerto Rico: El Nuevo Dia newspaper reported that 80 percent of homes in a small fishing community near San Juan were damaged, and that an emergency medical station in the coastal 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. About 90 percent of customers were without power. Those who sought shelter at a coliseum in San Juan were moved to the building’s second and third floors, radio station WKAQ-AM reported.
Reporters and residents have posted video this morning from Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, where officials warn there could be 10 to 22 more hours of serious winds.
Roofs are peeling off. You can hear the wind. This is in the metropolitan area of Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Man addressing those huddled under bleachers. Tells them it will be another 10hrs of wind & thanks them for their patience.
Hurricane Maria so strong it's ripping doors off their frames at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum.
Mike Brennan, a senior hurricane specialist at the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), said the hurricane hit Puerto Rico just after 6am. Brennan warned of flash-flooding and punishing rainfall, which meant the storm would remain major and “very dangerous” for the next couple of days. Maximum sustained winds of 140mph were recorded and isolated rainfall of 25 inches and higher was measured in some parts of the island.
María continues over PR. Stay in a safe shelter! María aún sobre PR. ¡Manténgase en un refugio seguro!
Here is a broadcast from the National Hurricane Center on what to expect from Hurricane Maria.
11 am EDT update from NHC on Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria is now approaching the northern coast of Puerto Rico as destructive winds and flooding are continuing, the Associated Press reports. In its latest update, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the eye of the Category 4 major hurricane is now located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of San Juan, the capital. Maximum sustained winds are 140 mph (220 kph) and the storm is moving to the northwest at 12 mph (19 kph). The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the north and east of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances. For information specific to your area, please see products issued by your local National Weather Service forecast office. A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane warning area in the Dominican Republic, and 1 to 3 ft elsewhere along the northern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Here are the Key Messages for 11 AM AST for
“We have a big one going right now,” is Donald Trump’s assessment of the latest hurricane to hit US territories, in comments carried by ABC News’s Twitter feed.
"We have a big one going right now," Pres. Trump says of Hurricane . "I've never seen winds like this." I’ve never seen winds like this. And Puerto Rico, you take a look at what’s happening there and it’s just one after another.
Here’s more on : Hurricane Maria Tropical Cyclone Update NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL152017 635 AM AST Wed Sep 20 2017 ...MARIA MAKES LANDFALL NEAR YABUCOA PUERTO RICO...
The US National Weather Service has declared a flash flood emergency for the Rio Grande de Manati in central Puerto Rico where river levels are at record highs.
Flash flood emergency for Rio Grande de Manati. This covers Florida, Barceloneta, Ciales and Manati until 400 PM.
Flash flood emergency continues along Rio de la Plata basin-this includes Comerio, Naranjito, Dorado, Toa Baja and Toa Alta until 4PM.
WATCH: Floodwaters rush through streets of Guyama, Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria strikes the island (via Cruz Rodriguez Keila)
Mailboxes float across the roads as rivers flood streets of Canovanas, a municipality north east of PR. ( )
The prime of St Kitts and Nevis, Timothy Harris, has declared a public holiday on Wednesday to allow people to take part in a ‘National Clean Up Day’ as the islands recover from being skirted by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria. “Citizens are asked to remain in the communities and volunteer in cleaning up environment to assist the country in returning to normalcy,” a statement from the government said.
The only way to currently communicate with Dominica is via ham radio or satellite phone. and more deaths are feared amid reports of “total destruction”, according to a chief aid to the prime minister. Hartley Henry, principal advisor to Prime Minister , provided an update from Barbados after speaking via satellite phone to his boss who is still on the island.
A flash flood warning has been issued for a large part of eastern Puerto Rico as river levels hit record levels.
RT : Flash Flood Warning including Carolina PR, Caguas PR, Trujillo Alto PR until 11:30 AM AST
River levels are approaching or exceeding record levels across Puerto Rico according to data from the US Geological Survey. The Rio Grande de Manati near Ciales has broken record levels by almost a foot with much more rain to come.
8 AM - Rio Grande de Manati near Ciales PR has broken its record flood stage by around a foot now and continuing to rise fast.
The river gauges across Puerto Rico are all going straight up toward record flooding with a lot of rain yet to come.
Hurricane Maria remains a category four storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it barrels over Puerto Rico, It is currently 15 miles south-southeast of the capital San Juan. The NHC says: On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will continue to move across Puerto Rico this morning and emerge off the northern coast by this afternoon. The center will then pass just north of the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic tonight and Thursday. Maximum sustained winds are near 150 mph (240 km/h) with higher gusts. Maria is an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, and it is forecast to retain this intensity while it moves across Puerto Rico. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles (240 km).
Journalists on Puerto Rico are hunkering down in hotels. The storm shutters are down in the Marriott in San Juan, but the doors have had to be strapped up with rope to stop them flying open, according to video David Begnaud, from CBS.
We are now inside of our hotel
“There's pieces of buildings in the area, that are flying off through the area like little missiles” - reports from PR.
Police just moved us into hotel. Too dangerous to be outside. This is the view of the hurricane from inside
When your hotel becomes a fortress
Replacing blown off plywood in our San Juan hotel lobby as rages outside.
Eyewall tearing up the hotel in
It’s that time when TV journalist and meteorologist venture out into the elements during the midst of a wild. this is Maria:
CNN’s is live from San Juan, Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria make landfall. Watch on CNN:
Webcam footage has emerged purportedly showing the scene at Yabucoa where Maria made landfall.
ACTUALIZACIÓN Así recibieron en Yabucoa Puerto Rico a los vientos de 155mph del
Maria is the first category four storm to hit Puerto Rico for 85 years, according to storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski.
First Category 4 landfall in Puerto Rico since 1932
Daybreak ! Extreme winds pounding our hotel in
Hurricane Maria has just made landfall on Puerto Rico, according to an . It said: Geostationary satellite images and surface observations indicate that the center of Hurricane Maria made landfall near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, around 615 AM AST. A sustained wind 60 mph (96 km/h) with a wind gust to 113 mph (182 km/h) was recently reported at Yabucoa Harbor, Puerto Rico. A National Ocean Service tide gauge at Yabucoa Harbor, Puerto Rico, recently reported a water level of 4.3 ft above Mean Higher High Water (MHHW).
Seven people are confirmed to have been killed on Dominica and more deaths are feared amid reports of “total destruction”, according to a chief aid to the prime minister. Hartley Henry, principal advisor to Prime Minister , gave an update on the impact of hurricane after speaking to Skerrit via satellite phone. Here it is in full: He and family are fine. Dominica is not!! Tremendous loss of housing and public buildings. The main general hospital took a beating. Patient care has been compromised. Many buildings serving as shelters lost roofs, which means that a very urgent need now is tarpaulins and other roofing materials. Little contact has been made with the outer communities but persons who walked 10 and 15 miles towards the city of Roseau from various outer districts report total destruction of homes, some roadways and crops. Urgent helicopter services are needed to take food, water and tarpaulins to outer districts for shelter. Canefield airport can accommodate helicopter landings and it is expected that from today, the waters around the main Roseau port will be calm enough to accommodate vessels bringing relief supplies and other forms of assistance.
The wind is already so strong on Puerto Rico that police struggled to close the doors on one of the island’s 500 shelters, according to video from NBC’s Gadi Schwartz.
Police trying to secure doors inside the Roberto Clemente shelter but winds are too strong.
People joining hands & praying as intensifies around this shelter.
Ross University school of medicine, on the hurricane hit island of Dominica, says it has accounted for nearly all of its students most of whom are US citizens. : “Once we have confirmed their names and student ID numbers, we will contact each student’s emergency contact using the number recorded at their check-in a few weeks ago. Several dozen people are working through the night to complete this task and calls will be made to emergency contacts as soon as we positively confirm your loved ones status.” There is extensive damage to Dominica from Hurricane Maria including property, vehicles, trees, power lines, and communication channels. Today we received reports of strong wind gusts despite the passage of the hurricane. We have not received any reports of serious flooding where our campus is located and of common areas where our students and colleagues reside.
Brigadier John Ridge, who is coordinating the UK joint hurricane task force, says the main concern on the British Virgin Island is flooding. British troops on the islands were clearing gullies and ditches before being forced to hunker down as Maria passed, Ridge told BBC News. Our concern for the British Virgin Islands is the fact that it [Maria] is due to bring some very heavy rain. Our concern there is the flooding and the storm surges. All the vegetation was stripped off during Hurricane Irma so we are very concerned about the flooding there. The effects will definitely have been felt on the British Virgin Islands. We are hoping that the military personel there, hunkered down during the worst of it, will be up and back in communication with us in the next hour or so. The worst in terms of the wind will be certainly have been over the last few hours.
Landfall on Puerto Rico should happen in the next two hours, according to the NHC. : On the forecast track the eye of Maria will make landfall in Puerto Rico in a couple of hours, cross Puerto Rico today, and pass just north of the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic tonight and Thursday. Maximum sustained winds are near 155 mph (250 km/h) with higher gusts. Maria is an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, and it should maintain this intensity until landfall.
-force winds occurring in Puerto Rico- 's eye should make landfall in the next couple of hours.
Maria is still an “extremely dangerous” hurricane as it nears Puerto Rico, but it has slightly dipped in intensity and is now classed as a category 4 storm with sustained wind speeds of 155mph, according to the . A Hurricane Warning is still in effect for:
Washington-based meteorologist, Alex Lamers, has an important clarification about when a hurricane makes landfall. This only applies when the exact centre of a hurricane crosses land, he says, not when the edge of crosses land.
Official definition of 'landfall' is when exact center of circulation crosses land, NOT edge of eye. NHC will send a special update.
The eye of Hurricane Maria about to make landfall in southeast PR very soon.
Hurricane Maria is about to make landfall on Puerto Rico. Radar imagery shows it remorseless barrelling towards the south-east of the island. The capital San Juan on the northern coast is also in its forecast track.
Remarkable how fast 's inner eroded away in 6hr. about done b/ no time to reintensify. Landfall in imminent!
The mountainous and volcanic terrain of Dominica will provide a challenge for the relief effort, according Chris Austin, head of the UK Taskforce on hurricanes Irma and Maria. The UK is currently trying to get an assessment team on Dominica after initial reports of widespread devastation and some fatalities. He said: Dominica is a different kind of challenge for us because of its topography. It’s mountainous, that means there’s a risks of landslides, of flash flooding. It is also home to half the active volcanoes in the Caribbean which adds another dimension.”
WATCH: Category 5 Maria hits Dominica - latest situation and UK response from Chris Austin, Head of UK Taskforce on Hurricane &
The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, has revealed that he and his officials had recently planned for two hurricanes hitting the in the island in quick succession. Speaking to Time magazine, he said: “Luckily our team pland and assessed for it. We were thinking of really bizzare scenarios occuring and one of them was getting back to back storms in Puerto Rico.”
If you’ve been affected by the hurricane and would like to share your story, you can contribute using the . You can also share pictures and videos by clicking on the blue Contribute button on this article, or via WhatsApp by adding the contact . Your stories will help our journalists have a more complete picture of these events and we will use them in our reporting. Your safety is most important, so please ensure that you’re taking this into account when recording or sharing your content.
The eyewall of Maria has just been recorded over the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, according to the latest update from the US National Hurricane Center. It is heading west to the main island soon. A gust of 83mph was recorded at Fajardo on the north-east of the main island of Puerto Rico.
4 AM AST Tropical Cyclone Update: 's eyewall over Vieques, -force winds expected in Puerto Rico soon
Sustained wind speeds of 110mph are being recorded on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques to the east of the main island.
3:45 AM AST: Vieques sintiendo vientos máximos sostenidos sobre 110 mph. Manténganse en un lugar seguro!
3:45 am. Big, steady howling now. Trees doing the crazy dance. Communications almost totally down. 982 mb.
The hotel is moving all guests to safe room now in , PR. The wind sounds like a woman screaming at the top of her lungs !
Winds really picking up now !! Pressure 979mb
The foreign office minister, Alan Duncan, has again defended the UK’s response to the hurricane season in the Caribbean and said more help is on the way.
This is Matthew Weaver picking up our live coverage as Hurricane Maria is expected to make landfall in Puerto Rico in the coming hours. Levi Peter, the attorney general of Dominica, says a “few deaths” have been reported on Dominica since it was directly hit by Maria on Monday night and Tuesday morning, but it is impossible to verify because communications are still down. “Unfortunately the picture is very uncertain ... I have not been able to make contact with Dominica since about 7am UK time [Tuesday] when I was last in communication with members of the cabinet and the prime minister and other friends. And almost nobody that I’m in contact with here, and in other parts of the world, has had any contact. Just before coming here I had some dribs and drabs from ham [radio] operators indicating that there has been some, a few, deaths so far reported. One suspects the number will increase as time goes by. “Certainly the damage and destruction is extensive. CDEMA, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, carried out surveillance yesterday by aircraft and there is
You lose your life the moment you start thinking about how to save a few bucks to stop something from crashing or burning or falling apart. The only thing that matters is the safety of your family, and your children, and yourself. The rest of the stuff, forget it.
Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, says there are currently more than 10,000 people – and nearly 200 pets – in official shelters. It’s approaching 3am on the island, with Maria due to hit around daybreak:
A las 2:30AM, contamos con 10,059 refugiados y 189 mascotas.
With power and communications down, confirmed reports from Dominica are still not available. Some information has come out of the island via ham (amateur) radio users, but until recovery teams arrive on Wednesday, it is impossible to verify the reports. The West Indies and News says it understands that 90% of buildings on the island have been destroyed.
The British Virgin Islands, while not in the direct eye of the storm, nonetheless remain under a hurricane warning, as Maria’s outer bands stretch across the Caribbean. The islands were wrecked by Hurricane Irma barely two weeks ago, hampering preparations for the latest onslaught, Press Assocation reports: The UK international development secretary, Priti Patel, has described the situation as an “unprecedented crisis” and stressed the UK government was “working flat out”. Relief workers were racing to secure debris left strewn across the islands after Irma, as loose items have the potential to make the coming hurricane more hazardous if they are picked up by high winds. Whilst the winds will be strong, it doesn’t look like the BVI will suffer quite the same level of wind as they did under Irma. The real concern is the amount of rain and the storm surge. They are predicting between 7ft and 11ft of storm surge, and the problem with the rain is the flooding and run-off associated with that.
The latest update from the US Hurricane Center forecasts the core of Maria to reach Puerto Rico within the next few hours: On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will cross Puerto Rico today, and pass just north of the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic tonight and Thursday.
Core of potentially catastrophic category 5 Hurricane expected to reach southeastern Puerto Rico this morning
Norbert Figueroa is reporting for the Guardian from Puerto Rico, and sends this update at close to 2am local time: Even when Hurricane Maria is still 95 miles (155km) south-east of the capital, San Juan, the Puerto Rico electric power authority (Prepa) has announced that 184,658 users no longer have power in their residences, 12.9% of users. This data was shared around 11pm, but by now it should be much higher. Carolina, where I am currently located, just lost power at 1.28 am.
You lose your life the moment you start thinking about how to save a few bucks to stop something from crashing or burning or falling apart. The only thing that matters is the safety of your family, and your children, and yourself. The rest of the stuff, forget it.
The US National Hurricane Center says a sustained wind of 90mph (144km/h) has been reported in St Croix. Wind gusts there have reached 127mph (204km/h). Maria is now moving west-north-west, across the western part of St Croix and towards Puerto Rico. It is currently 95 miles (155km) south-east of the capital, San Juan.
Some consolation for the US Virgin Islands as the eye of Hurricane Maria skirts the south-west of St Croix, without making landfall. Yet the island is still experiencing huge wind gusts and heavy rains from the eyewall, which is still passing over the western part.
A 1am update from the US National Hurricane Center confirms that the outer eyewall of Hurricane Maria is currently lashing St Croix, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 175mph (280km/h).
Aerial footage from Dominica shows flattened buildings, fallen trees and scattered debris:
Here is the outer eyewall of Hurricane Maria pummelling St Croix (marked in green), the southernmost of the US Virgin Islands:
Textbook double eyewall; outer one currently hitting St. Croix
Even from this distance, Puerto Rico is starting to feel the effects of Hurricane Maria. It is currrently shortly after midnight local time, and the core of the storm is expected to hit the island around daybreak. But those on Puerto Rico now have begun to report a whipping-up of the weather:
starting to make her presence felt in , PR. Lots of loud noises outside, crashing and banging becoming more frequent
Flight list in hotel lobby
The midnight advisory from the NHC notes that sustained winds of 75mph (120km/h), with gusts of up to 114mph (183km/h) have been recorded in the western part of St Croix, the largest and southernmost of the US Virgin Islands. Maria is currently 20 miles (35km) south-south-west of St Croix.
The US National Hurricane Center has issued another update as midnight strikes along with Hurricane Maria in the Virgin Islands: Sustained hurricane-force winds reported on St Croix.
An anemometer on St Croix – – is registering ever increasing wind gusts as Hurricane Maria approaches the Virgin Islands:
Wow- 95 gust now on St. Croix.
Timothy Harris, the prime minister of St Kitts and Nevis, has declared Wednesday to be “national clean-up day” after Hurricane Maria passed the islands. Residents are asked to pitch in from 9am on Wednesday to help clear debris. But the warns: Please be aware that fallen power lines may be live and extreme caution must be taken. Also be aware that there may be residual effects of the storm.
An aerial reconnaissance of Dominica by the Caribbean disaster emergency management agency shows some of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria across the island. Ronald Jackson, the agency’s executive director, says estimates suggest 70%-80% of buildings have been damaged, along with hospitals, roads and bridges.
Although it is the US Virgin Islands – and specifically the southernmost island of St Croix – that will bear the brunt of Maria as it passes, the British Virgin Islands are also under a hurricane warning and can expect heavy rains and strong winds, less than two weeks after a battering from Hurricane Irma. BVI governor Gus Jaspert told the Press Association that with up to 90% of houses destroyed or damaged by Irma, “shelter is a real issue”: It is completely unprecedented to have one category five, which has devastated large parts of the BVI, then now to be possibly having another category five bearing down on us. Hopefully it is tracking a little bit south, but on the current trajectory we are going to have impact in terms of flooding, high wind and possible landslides or storm surges as well.
Weather stations in St Croix are already falling foul of Hurricane Maria – something we saw in Barbuda, too, as Hurricane Irma approached:
Anemometers have blown away at both stations on St. Croix.
The NHC forecast keeps hurricane warnings in place for the following islands: Tropical storm and hurricane conditions are occurring over the Virgin Islands and will spread over Puerto Rico overnight. Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area in the Dominican Republic late Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions expected by early Wednesday.
In better news, the US National Hurricane Center has downgraded the former Hurricane Jose to a tropical storm. But the NHC does warn that Jose could still cause dangerous surf and rip current conditions along the US east coast, Bermuda and the Bahamas for several more days.
The latest advisory from the US National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Maria – still at category 5 strength – is now just 30 miles (45km) from St Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands. Its maximum sustained wind speeds are 175mph (280km/h). On the forecast track, the eye of Maria will move near or over St Croix in the US Virgin Islands within the next couple of hours, then cross Puerto Rico on Wednesday, and pass just north of the north-east coast of the Dominican Republic Wednesday night and Thursday.
A final warning from the US National Hurricane Center to the US Virgin Islands as the eye of Maria is about to strike St Croix:
Hurricane Advisory 16: Eye of Potentially Catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Maria Nearing St. Croix.
The US president, Donald Trump, has tweeted support for Puerto Rico – a US territory – which faces a direct hit from Hurricane Maria on Wednesday. Before then, Maria is due imminently to strike the US Virgin Islands.
Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you- will be there to help!
Satellite imagery shows the outer eyewall (marked in blue) of Maria has almost reached the US Virgin Island of St Croix, seen here outlined in green:
Edge of sustained hurricane force winds nearing St Croix
As the eye of Maria approaches the US Virgin Islands, the effects of its outer rain bands and high winds are already being felt, Agence France-Presse reports: On St John island, which was also battered by Hurricane Irma two weeks ago, locals reported seeing trees dramatically swaying in swirling winds, with rain pouring “sideways”. Judi Buckley, former senator for St Croix island, traveled to St John from her South Carolina home to help with the Irma relief effort – only to get caught up in Maria.
A 10pm update from the US National Hurricane Center warns that “sustained hurricane-force winds should start on St Croix soon”. St Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands, home to around 50,000 people.
Norbert Figueroa is reporting for the Guardian from San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, and sends this update: The number of displaced people has increased exponentially in the last three hours, going from less than 500 to over 4,400 and counting. Local authorities still urge everyone in danger zones to move to one of the 500 shelters immediately. Luis Muñoz Marín airport has already reported wind gusts of up to 42mph (68km/h), which speak of the magnitude and strength of Hurricane Maria, considering it is still located about 160 miles (250km) south-east of San Juan.
Confirmed reports from Dominica are still not available, but West Indies and Caribbean News says it understands that 90% of buildings on the island have been destroyed. . Its key points are:
This image from the GOES16 weather satellite shows Maria bearing down on St Croix, in the US Virgin Islands. The island of Vieques is then next in its path, before the hurricane is forecast to smack into Puerto Rico, seen here in the green outer band to the north-west of the eye.
infrared image of
Ross University school of medicine, which is in Dominica, says it is is still working to account for its students – more than 80% of whom are US citizens, with close to 10% from Canada – after Maria swept the island. But many relatives and friends outside Dominica say the hotline number provided is unavailable and they have been unable to make contact with the school or students.
Maria is intensifying. With wind speeds now up to 175mph (280km/h) and barometric pressure down to 909hPa, it is now one of the most intense hurricanes in Atlantic history:
Breaking pressure now a RECORD 909mb making it the 10th most intense hurricane in Atlantic basin history
It is currently almost 9pm in the US Virgin Islands, where Hurricane Maria is expected to hit around midnight. Reuters reports: The hurricane was expected to pass near St Croix, the part of the US Virgin Islands that escaped the brunt of Irma. St Croix is home to about 55,000 year-round residents, roughly half of the entire territory’s population. US Virgin Islands governor Kenneth Mapp warned residents of St Croix that they would feel the brunt of the hurricane’s winds around midnight. St Thomas and St John, to the north of St Croix, were not likely to suffer a direct hit, he said. If you’ve identified a spot, a closet, a corner on the inside of your home and you have some breach in your roof, one of the things you can do is take a mattress or something and have it as a barrier to make sure that you’re safe.” Many USVI residents fled to shelters around midday on Tuesday. Mapp urged islanders to focus on saving themselves: You lose your life the moment you start thinking about how to save a few bucks to stop something from crashing or burning or falling apart. The only thing that matters is the safety of your family, and your children, and yourself. The rest of the stuff, forget it.” US airlines said on Tuesday they would cap one-way fares at $99 to $384 to aid evacuations. Maria was predicted to be the worst storm to hit St Croix since Hugo, a category 4 storm, in 1989.
Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of Puerto Rico, which is expected to be struck by Hurricane Maria within the next 24 hours, says more than 4,000 people – and 100 pets – have already sought refuge in official emergency shelters:
A las 8:00pm, contamos con 4422 refugiados y 105 mascotas.
The first reconnaissance flights over Dominica reveal “significant damage”, according to Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean disaster and emergency management agency.
CDEMA's First sets of Boots, Relief and Comms set to depart Barbados to Dominica this evening via Barbados Coast Guard.
More relief and response personnel due out in the Morning#Hurricanemaria2017
Thanks to our neighbors in Martinique for facilitating PM Dominicas Air Recon.
CDEMA/RSS Recon Overflight confirm significant damage in Dominica.
Rogelio Sierra Díaz, Cuba’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, has also offered support for Dominica as the island begins to assess the damage wrought by Maria:
Calls upon the world for solidarity with . stands willing and ready to assist in any way possible to aid in recovery efforts
News from Dominica – which took the full brunt of Maria’s category five winds and rain on Monday night – has been very slow to arrive. Prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in the early hours of Tuesday, : So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace. My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains. The government and people of Antigua and Barbuda stands in solidarity with the government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica during this time of need. We express our deep sorrow at the loss of life and property resulting from the passage of Hurricane Maria over the island. We stand ready to lend support to our brothers and sisters in Dominica.
A hurricane warning means residents should expect hurricane conditions and make immediate preparations to protect life. Warnings are currently in place for the following islands:
This is Claire Phipps picking up our live coverage as Hurricane Maria continues to barrel its way across the Caribbean. from the US National Hurricane Center, at 8pm local time, warns that the category 5 hurricane is moving closer to St Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands. Maria is currently about 60 miles (100km) south-east of the island, with winds of 175mph (280km/h). Preparations against life-threatening storm surge and rainfall flooding and destructive winds should be rushed to completion.
Journalist Norbert Figueroa, reporting on the ground in San Juan, has an update on the potentially devastating impacts to Puerto Rico’s infrastructure: Puerto Rico’s struggling and decaying power and telecommunications infrastructures are expected to be some of the most affected by this hurricane. It’s possible all communications and power networks could collapse at some point on Wednesday.
Puerto Rico will need billions in federal aid after Hurricane Maria, according to a report in the .
Puerto Rico will need billions in federal help after Hurricane Maria The island’s utility provider filed for a form of bankruptcy in July, and two months later Hurricane Irma passed just north of San Juan, knocking out power to nearly 1 million people and causing an estimated $1 billion in damage. With thousands still without power, Hurricane Maria is approaching... The Puerto Rican government, which sought bankruptcy relief in exchange for supervised fiscal belt-tightening in May, will need federal assistance to recover from Maria and Irma. Repairing and replacing power lines and stations throughout the territory after Maria will likely cost billions, though the island doesn’t have any voting power in Congress.”
The National Hurricane Center’s latest update says that as of 7pm local time, Maria remains a category 5 hurricane that is “extremely dangerous” and “still strengthening”. Officials report that the maximum sustained winds have increased to 175 mph (280 km/h).
Reporter Norbert Figueroa has an update from the ground in Puerto Rico, where evacuations and hurricane preparation continue: In San Juan, the wind is slowly incrementing, but it’s still not sustained. Rain is also intermittent but becoming more recurrent as time passes. We are going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico and we’ll have to rebuild. But that’s secondary to life.”
The Puerto Rico governor, Ricardo Rosselló, is now warning of a “total collapse of the energy system in Puerto Rico”. He National Public Radio that Maria will cause significantly more damage than Hurricane Irma:
Gov. Rossello says Maria will be much more damaging than Irma, and that Puerto Rico will need “help from all our fellow citizens.”
Rossello tells that Hurricane Maria's impact will probably lead to a “total collapse of the energy system in Puerto Rico.”
Here is recent footage of the San Juan mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, giving an emotional interview from a shelter:
Here's some advice from the mayor of San Juan to the people of Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria barrels toward the country. I’m scared for the people I’m responsible for. And I’m scared that when we come out of here, the devastation and the loss of lives would be great. So I’m just scared for my people.”
Hurricane center forecasters have said it “now appears likely” that Maria will still be at category 5 intensity when it moves over the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, according to the AP. The center of the storm was forecast to move over or near the US Virgin Island of St Croix and Puerto Rico on Tuesday night and Wednesday, leading to “life-threatening” floods.
Here is the latest storm surge and rainfall information for Hurricane
Reporter Daniel Cassady provided this update from San Juan earlier this afternoon as Maria continued to edge closer: The capital city of Puerto Rico seemed calm this afternoon. In the morning, there was a sense of urgency on the road, and the few people who were out on the street were securing their windows with plywood or corrugated steel. From Guaynabo to Old San Juan, most businesses, with the exception of grocery stores and gas stations, were closed.
People are lined up to get ice in preparation for Hurricane Maria. reports from San Juan, Puerto Rico
523 in the shelter
France’s interior minister has reported that at least 150,000 homes have lost electricity after Maria passed over two French Caribbean islands. In Guadeloupe, 80,000 households were without power and in Martinique, 70,000 were affected, according to the Associated Press report on Gerard Collomb’s remarks in Paris late Tuesday. Here is earlier footage from Guadeloupe:
Although they missed the worst of the wind from Cat. 5 , still got hit hard overnight. Video from
Sam Levin here, taking over our . Here is the latest on the storm, which has grown in force and is continuing to batter the Caribbean:
Here are the Key Messages for advisory 14. Go to for details