Maria Pummels Caribbean; ‘Things Look Very, Very Bad’

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Hurricane Maria slammed into U.S. territory as a category 5 storm.

Maria packed powerful winds of more than 140 miles per hour as her path of destruction pummeled Puerto Rico Wednesday morning.

The hurricane ripped roofs, tore trees, flooded streets and forced people to find sanctuary during the storm.

The entire country is now in the dark from the storm, which was a category 4 storm before unleashing her fury on Puerto Rico.

WJZ has made contact with many Baltimore residents with family in Puerto Rico, few have heard anything from their relatives at all, which is a frustrating unknown on an island with major destruction.

“We’ve never had back to back hurricanes before,” said San Juan resident Yolanda Maldonado.

One Baltimore woman told WJZ she has not been able to contact her mother on the island, but that her cousin lived through the terrifying storm.

That cousin, who lives in Bayamon, near San Juan shared pictures with WJZ from outside her home.

She says the storm shook her whole house.

Before the storm, Puerto Rico’s governor walked door to door but told CBS News his people were ready.

“Our people are resilient. They’re strong. They showed it after Irma. We were there to help other US Citizens in their time of need. Now, we’re going to need a helping hand,” said Puerto Rico’s governor.

Puerto Rico’s governor also told CNN Wednesday the whole island is still without power, and with the damage to the electrical system, the lights might not be back on for months.

The islands of Saint Thomas and Saint Croix also stood in Maria’s path.

People in St. Croix say they desperately need supplies and help immediately.

“It’s impassable, the roads are impassable. They’re blocked by trees, by power poles by power transmitters,” said Herb Schoenbohm in a phone interview with WJZ from Saint Croix.

Shoenbohm lives on the island of Saint Croix and says Maria decimated the island, while many are still reeling from Hurricane Irma just a week ago.

Schoenbohm says cell and internet service is spotty on the island.

“What the storm didn’t destroy, the rain will,” he said. “The power company is going to need, I would say, at least a thousand poles to restore the grid plus a lot of power. Whoever can come down here with some planes quickly with supplies that we need.”

Schoenbohm believes it could take months or even years for the island to fully recover from the storm.

“Without federal assistance, things look very, very bad for Saint Croix,” he said.

The American Red Cross is on the island assisting with a shelter setup that is running off a generator, but they’re not sure how long that will last.

The Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is urging travelers to delay their plans to the islands if they want to visit.

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