Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, resulting in 2,975 deaths, US$90 billion in damage, and a major humanitarian crisis
Hurricane Maria was a powerful and devastating Category 5 hurricane that struck the Caribbean and the southeastern United States in September 2017. It was the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, and one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes to ever hit the United States territory of Puerto Rico.
Formation and Development: Hurricane Maria originated from a tropical wave that moved off the west coast of Africa in late September 2017. It rapidly intensified and reached Category 5 status on September 18, 2017, with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph (280 km/h).
Impact on the Caribbean: Maria first made landfall in Dominica on September 18, causing catastrophic damage and resulting in numerous fatalities. It then continued its path through the eastern Caribbean, causing significant damage and loss of life in places like Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several other islands in the region.
Puerto Rico Impact: Puerto Rico was particularly hard hit by Hurricane Maria. The storm made landfall on the island on September 20, 2017, as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph (250 km/h). The island’s infrastructure, including its power grid, was severely damaged, leading to months-long power outages and a humanitarian crisis. Many homes were destroyed, and the island faced shortages of clean water, food, and medical supplies.
Humanitarian Crisis: The aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico led to a significant humanitarian crisis. The slow and inadequate response from both the local and federal governments drew widespread criticism. The lack of timely assistance and recovery efforts contributed to a high death toll, with estimates of the total number of fatalities varying, but it is clear that thousands of lives were lost due to the hurricane and its aftermath.
Recovery Efforts: Recovery and rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico were long and challenging. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other organizations provided aid and assistance, but the process was slow, and many residents faced ongoing hardships for months.
Economic Impact: The economic impact of Hurricane Maria was substantial. The damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and tourism had a lasting effect on the economy of Puerto Rico and other affected areas.