Hurricane Maria intensifies to a category 5 storm heading towards Caribbean islands still recovering from Irma
Hurricane Maria, a churning category 5 storm, killed at least one person in Guadeloupe on Tuesday (September 19) after devastating the small island nation of Dominica.
The storm was then expected to remain an extremely dangerous category 4 or 5 hurricane as it passed the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Maria is the fourth major Atlantic hurricane this year and its potentially catastrophic force appears to be moving roughly along the same track as Irma, the hurricane that devastated the region earlier this month.
Last time spared Irma’s full onslaught, (Irma didn’t make landfall) Puerto Rico is now bracing itself for winds of up to 260 Km/h and storm surges of possibly three metres high.
The US territory has opened shelters and stock-piled supplies but locals are not convinced there have been adequate preparations:
“The problem in Puerto Rico is that the electricity and water cut off. The power system is precarious,” said a worried Benjamin, a local resident.
“What worries me most is that having already gone through one, then another (hurricane) comes along,” said Juan.
Warnings have also gone out on Martinique, the US Virgin Islands and St Kitts and Nevis.
Many communities are still recovering from the last hurricane and there are fears Maria may whip up debris left by Irma posing an added threat.