Outside the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma is the most powerful Atlantic storm on record. And now the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is issuing a shocking warning about the effects of the Category 5 hurricane’s impact there.
Although the territory of 3 million people is not being hit directly by the storm as it passes to the north throughout Wednesday evening, the damage from heavy winds and rainfall could be catastrophic. That’s why Puerto Rico’s electric company sent out a dire warning.
According to the Miami Herald, the power company said the island could be without power for four to six months. Puerto Rico is actually an archipelago of one main island, two other small populated islands, and several unpopulated islands and islets.
Power official Ricardo Ramos gave a slightly softer warning, saying, "There are going to be blackouts. Areas that will spend three, four months without electricity."
Puerto Rico, which is only about three times the size of Rhode Island and just as densely populated, has been struggling with massive amounts of debt. Some have wondered if Puerto Rico should be considered a Third World country, but it is not poor enough and is part of the U.S., so it cannot fit that definition. Still, it has a 45% poverty rate, twice that of Mississippi’s, according to Quartz. Storm recovery will be incredibly difficult.
In the nearby territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which has a population of over 100,000, Irma is already wreaking havoc with heavy rainfall. Wind gusts of up to 131 mph have been reported, according to the New York Daily News.
The effects of Irma are expected to hit Florida late Friday night or early.
Please pray for those being affected by this storm! In related news, evangelist Franklin Graham is explaining how bad Hurricane Irma could be to the Sunshine State. Watch live updates of the storm's progress below: