Early Thursday morning, President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico. The declaration makes federal funding available to Puerto Ricans affected by the storm, reported CNN.
In a press conference, President Trump described the situation in Puerto Rico, saying the U.S. territory had been "absolutely obliterated" by Hurricane Maria.
"Not for many decades has a storm hit a piece of land like that," said the president. He also shared that he will be visiting Puerto Rico in the near future.
Hurricane Maria rammed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday, killing at least one person and destroying the power grid. When people were able to leave their homes on Thursday, they found destruction: “splintered homes, crumbled balconies, uprooted trees and floodwaters coursing through streets,” reported the New York Times.
Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on the island’s southeast side as category 4 hurricane. The wind rushed at 155 miles per hour before the hurricane lost strength, reported Fox News.
Unfortunately, the storm regained power on Thursday. It headed towards Turks and Caicos as a Category 3 hurricane.
Maria is the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years. It left 100% of the island without electricity. It’s unclear when power will return to the island. The power grid had already been crumbling because of lack of maintenance and a decrease in local government staff.
“Many now believe it will take weeks, if not months, to restore power,” said Fox .
"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."
The storm has caused an additional 9 deaths so far. Two people in Guadeloupe and seven in Dominica. That toll in Puerto Rico is expected to rise.
"The hit on Puerto Rico has been devastating with over 2 feet of rain, incredible storm surge and the whole island without power," declared Fox News Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean. "It is the worst disaster Puerto Rico has experienced in a generation. We have yet to see the devastation they are waking up to."
Authorities say that more than 11,000 people have taken cover in shelters. Thousands of others huddled in houses buffeted by the win.
Adrian Pacheco, a 40-year-old tourism company operator, described how he spent eight hours, along with 100 other residents, in a stairwell hiding from the storm. The hurricane ripped the storm shutters off his building and destroyed three balconies.
"I think people didn't expect the storm to reach the point that it did," said Pacheco. "Since Irma never really happened, they thought Maria would be the same."
In other news, rescue workers in Mexico City are rushing to save a 12-year-old girl trapped under rubble from the earthquake. Pray for her safety and all those impacted by natural disasters.