'Storm of the century' ravages Puerto Rico, continues on destructive path

'Storm of the century' ravages Puerto Rico, continues on destructive path

Residents of San Juan, Puerto Rico, deal with damage to their homes on September 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria batters the island.  / AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL
Residents of San Juan, Puerto Rico, deal with damage to their homes on September 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria batters the island. / AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL

Hurricane Maria caused devastation across Puerto Rico Wednesday as 240 kph winds from the island's worst storm in living memory flooded the capital and sent thousands scurrying to shelters.

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'Storm of the century' Maria pummels Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria caused devastation across Puerto Rico Wednesday as 240 kilometre-per-hour winds from the island's worst storm in living memory flooded the capital and sent thousands scurrying to shelters.

After killing at least nine people in the Caribbean, Maria slammed into Puerto Rico's southeast coast at daybreak before churning across the US territory which is home to 3.4 million.

As tens of thousands of people hunkered down in shelters in the capital San Juan, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz broke down in tears as she spoke of the utter devastation she had witnessed.

Rescue workers carry a woman into the Emergency Operation Centre after the the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

"Many parts of San Juan are completely flooded," Yulin Cruz told reporters in one of the shelters whose roof swayed as she spoke.

"Our life as we know it has changed... There is a lot of pain and a lot of devastation."

Maria made landfall as a Category Four storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, initially packing winds of a little over 240 kph before easing slightly as it powered towards San Juan.

"The wind sounds like a woman screaming at the top of her lungs!" Mike Theiss wrote on Twitter, sheltering in a safe room in the eye of the storm.

"We are getting absolutely hammered right now."

Imy Rigau, who was riding out the storm in her apartment in San Juan, said water had "cascaded" through her ceiling.

"We are taking refuge in the hallway as there is about a foot of water in my apartment," she told AFP.

"I boarded up the windows but with all of this, it seems they are going to be blown away. One of them was smashed up, so we are here in the hallway where there are no windows."

Many of the most vulnerable of Puerto Rico's residents took cover in the 500 shelters set up around the island, with officials warning of life-threatening floods.

"There is no power on the island and there is very little communications," according to Ricardo Castrodad, a public health official with the US Coast Guard's San Juan sector.

The US and British Virgin Islands – still struggling to recover from the devastation of Irma – are also on alert, along with the Turks and Caicos Islands and parts of the Dominican Republic.

Young men take cover as winds lash the coastal city of Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, the eastermost tip of the La Espanola island it shares with Haiti, as Hurricane Maria approaches on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Erika SANTELICES

Maria has already torn through several Caribbean islands, leaving at least seven people dead on the island of Dominica.

Communications to Dominica have been largely cut, and its airports and ports have been closed.

But an advisor to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who spoke to the premier by satellite phone, painted a picture of devastation on an island that is home to around 73,000 people.

"It's difficult to determine the level of fatalities but so far seven are confirmed, as a direct result of the hurricane," Hartley Henry said in a statement.

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Vocabulary

  • absolutely (adv): completely - โดยสิ้นเชิง, อย่างแน่นอน, อย่างแท้จริง
  • advisor (noun): a person who gives advice, especially somebody who knows a lot about a particular subject - ที่ปรึกษา
  • approach: to move closer to someone or something - เข้าใกล้
  • blown away: when the wind hits something and moves it to another place -
  • board up (verb): to cover a window, door, etc. with wooden boards -
  • break down in tears (idiom): to suddenly start to cry -
  • capital: the most important town or city of a country, usually where the central government operates from - เมืองหลวง
  • cascade: to flow in large amounts - ตกลงมาเหมือนน้ำตก,ต่อเนื่องกัน
  • Category Four (noun): a hurricane or typhoon with winds between 210-249 km/hr. -
  • ceiling: the top inside surface of a room - เพดาน
  • century: a period of one hundred years - ศตวรรษ
  • churning (verb): moving water, mud, gas etc. around violently - หมุนวนอย่างแรง
  • coast: an area of land beside the sea - ชายฝั่ง
  • coast guard: a military organisation that watches for ships in danger and works to prevent illegal activities on the ocean - ยามชายฝั่ง
  • coastal: of an area of land beside the sea - แนวชายฝั่งทะเล
  • daybreak: the time of day when light first appears - ฟ้าสาง, รุ่งสาง, รุ่งอรุณ, เช้ามืด
  • devastation: damage or destruction affecting a large area or a lot of people - การทำลายล้าง, การทำให้เสียหายอย่างรุนแรง
  • ease (verb): decrease, fall - ลดลง
  • emergency: an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary - เหตุฉุกเฉิน
  • fatality: a death caused by an illness, accident, crime or war - การเสียชีวิต
  • hallway: a passage in a building with rooms down either side - ระเบียงหรือทางเดินในตึก
  • hammer (verb): to hit something hard, often many times, - กระหน่ำ
  • hunker down (verb): to prepare yourself to stay somewhereor do something for a long time; to sit on your heels with your knees bent up in front of you - นั่งขัดสมาธิ, นั่งพับขา
  • initially: at first - ในเบื้องต้น
  • landfall: the place where a storm coming from the sea first hits land - การเข้าหาแผ่นดิน
  • lash: to hit with a lot of force - กระทบอย่างแรง
  • life-threatening (adj): serious enough to possibly cause death - เป็นอันตรายต่อชีวิต
  • living memory: what people can remember during their lifetime -
  • lungs: the organs in your chest that fill with air when you breathe - ปอด
  • mayor: the most important elected official in a town or city - นายกเทศมนตรี
  • on alert: ready to deal with a dangerous situation - เตรียมพร้อม อย่างเต็มที่
  • operation: an activity which is planned to achieve something - การดำเนินการ
  • pack (verb): to have something (winds, a gun, etc.) -
  • port: an area of water where ships stop, including the buildings around it - ท่าเรือ
  • pummel: to keep hitting somebody/something hard - ตี, ต่อย, ชก
  • recover (verb): to become normal and healthy again - ฟื้นฟูสภาพ, ฟื้นฟูร่างกาย
  • residents: people who live in a particular area - ประชาชนที่อาศัยในท้องที่
  • ride out (verb): to manage to survive a difficult situation or time without having to make great changes -
  • scale: a range of levels or numbers used for measuring something - ระบบการวัด
  • scream: to cry or say something loudly and usually on a high note, especially because of strong emotions such as fear, excitement or anger - กรีดร้อง
  • scurry: to move quickly, with small short steps - รีบจ้ำอ้าวไปยัง
  • sector (noun): a part of a particular area, a part of a circle lying between two straight lines drawn from the centre to the edge - ส่วน, ส่วนวง
  • shelter: a place where people are protected from danger or bad weather; a temporary place to stay - ที่หลบภัย  ที่พักชั่วคราว
  • slammed into: hit with great force - ชนเข้าอย่างแรง
  • slightly: small in size or amount - เล็กน้อย
  • smash: to break something noisily into many pieces by dropping or hitting it with a lot of force - ทำให้แตกเป็นเสี่ยงๆ, ทำให้แตกเป็นชิ้นๆ
  • statement: something that you say or write that gives information or an opinion - แถลงการณ์, คำแถลง
  • struggle (verb): to try hard to do something that you find very difficult - พยายาม; ต่อสู้
  • sway: to move slowly from side to side; to move something in this way - แกว่งไปมา, โซเซ
  • take cover (idiom): to protect yourself from danger; to find a safe place - หาที่ปลอดภัย
  • take refuge: to go to a place which provides protection or shelter from danger or trouble - ลี้ภัย
  • tip: the thin pointed end of something - จุดปลายสุด
  • utter: complete - อย่างที่สุด
  • vulnerable: easily damaged or harmed - ซึ่งถูกทำลายได้ง่าย
  • warn: to make someone conscious of a possible problem or danger - เตือน
  • witness (verb): to see something happen - มองเห็น, เป็นพยาน
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