Millions of people living in Puerto Rico are completely without power in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which pummeled the U.S. territory on Wednesday with ferocious 155-mph winds that ripped trees from the ground and tore roofs from buildings.
The Category 4 storm made landfall in Puerto Rico early Wednesday, becoming the most powerful storm of its kind to hit the island since 1932. Puerto Rico’s Emergency Management Agency announced that 100 percent of the island is without power, according to The New York Times. Anyone in need of electricity would have to rely on generators.
“This is total devastation,” Carlos Mercader, a spokesman for Puerto Rico’s governor, told CNN. “Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same… This is something of historic proportions.”
Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló told CNN the damage from Maria is expected to be much worse than what they experienced from Hurricane Irma, which killed three people on the island and knocked out power for millions. As of 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, 11,000 refugees were in shelters on the 100-mile-long island, which is home to 3.5 million people. Rosselló told newspaper El Nuevo Dia that severe damage along rivers and reservoirs have caused flooding.
During a press conference, Puerto Rico’s emergency management director, Abner Gomez, offered a grim notice to residents who venture out of their homes to glimpse the devastation.
“Definitely Puerto Rico—when we can get outside—we will find our island destroyed,” Gomez said, according to the Washington Post. “The information we have received is not encouraging. It’s a system that has destroyed everything it has had in its path.”
Maria weakened to a Category 3 hurricane as of midday Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center, which warned residents that the storm remains an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation.
Rosselló tweeted an encouraging message to the island on Wednesday afternoon:
“Resist, Puerto Rico,” Rosselló wrote. “God is with us; we are stronger than any hurricane. Together we will lift up.”
Hurricane Maria is expected to move toward the Dominican Republic Wednesday night. The storm has killed at least nine people in the Caribbean.