At least 9 dead after 'Extremely Violent' Hurricane Maria makes landfall

Leaving at least nine people dead in its wake across the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria blew ashore in the morning in the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa as a Category 4 storm with winds of 155 mph (250 kph). 

It was expected to punish the island of 3.4 million people with life-threatening winds for 12 to 24 hours. "Once we're able to go outside, we're going to find our island destroyed," said Abner Gomez, Puerto Rico's emergency management director.

"The information we have received is not encouraging. It's a system that has destroyed everything in its path." 

As people waited it out in shelters or took cover inside stairwells, bathrooms and closets, Maria brought down cell towers and power lines, snapped trees and unloaded at least 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain. 

Widespread flooding was reported, with dozens of cars half-submerged in some neighborhoods and many streets turned into rivers. People calling local radio stations reported that doors were being torn off their hinges and a water tank flew away.

As of 2 p.m. EDT, Maria had weakened to a Category 3, with winds of 115 mph (185 kph). It was off Puerto Rico's northwestern coast, moving at about 15 mph (20 kph), and was expected to pass off the coast of the Dominican Republic late Wednesday and Thursday.

Puerto Rico is struggling to restructure a portion of its $73 billion debt, and the government has warned it is running out of money as it fights back against furloughs and other austerity measures imposed by a federal board overseeing the island's finances.

Charitable Foundation Winston Churchill collects money to provide necessary medical assistance to the victims of Hurricane Maria and urges the dissemination of this information more actively so that more people can help. Donate

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