The tens of thousands of Boricuas who live in Miami are anxiously staring at CNN and Twitter this morning, hoping against hope that everyone in Puerto Rico stays safe as the catastrophic Hurricane Maria rakes the island. Even as Miami can rest easier knowing the latest tracks show Maria curving out to sea by this weekend, a city with deep ties to San Juan is on edge as the Category 4 storm makes a dead-eye hit on the U.S. territory.
As of 8 a.m., Maria is packing 155 mph winds — just 2 mph short of a Cat 5 classification — and has just made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeastern coast near the city of Yabucoa. The storm is officially the third most powerful to make landfall on any U.S. territory, and its eye will cross the narrow island this morning, carving a path of devastation that will likely include San Juan, the capital of 2.3 million people.
Video shot in Puerto Rico shows an intense storm pounding the coast as it moved ashore.
This is what it looks like in San Juan as Maria makes landfall near southeast coastal town of Yabucoa at 6:15 am EST with winds of 155mph pic.twitter.com/yxqmuagK9J— Dánica Coto (@danicacoto) September 20, 2017
In San Juan, millions scrambled to find safe shelter a little more than a week after Hurricane Irma skirted the island. In fact, the main convention center in the capital is still housing Irma victims from around the Caribbean who lost their homes in that storm. Now they'll have to weather another powerful hurricane in the emergency center.
Others have sought shelter in hotels and high-rises, but damage reports are already coming in from places such as Fajardo, a town on the eastern coast where storm chaser Mike Theiss holed up this morning:
Puerto Rico is in for a long, scary day as Maria passes through. Although the eye should move off the coast later this morning, hurricane-force winds will lash the island for most of the day.
Here in Florida, there is good news today. The tracking models increasingly agree Maria will curve north out to sea after passing near the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. For the Sunshine State, it looks increasingly clear that Maria won't be another Irma.
But spare a thought for Puerto Rico and all the Boricuas in Miami today, anguished over what's happening in their Caribbean home as Maria slowly heads north.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.