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Reports: Hurricane Maria pounds Puerto Rico after making landfall as a Category 4 storm

Maria continues to wallop islands in the northern Caribbean that suffered serious damage from Irma less than two weeks ago.

Maria became the second Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane around 6:15 a.m. AST Wednesday.

After Maria pulls away from Puerto Rico, it will impact the Turks and Caicos and Bahamas through late this week.

Dominica took a direct hit from Maria on Monday night shortly after it strengthened into a Category 5 hurricane. This is the first recorded Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Dominica. Tropical Storm Erika devastated the island just two years ago, killing at least 31 people.

Emergency declarations have been approved by President Donald Trump for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Satellite imagery shows Hurricane Maria Wednesday morning as it tracks over Puerto Rico. (Image/NOAA)

Major Hurricane Maria lashes Puerto Rico with life-threatening flooding, damaging winds

2017 Atlantic hurricane season is far from over; US remains at risk for additional strikes

Where will Maria head after it slams the Caribbean islands?

For previous reports on Maria, click here

In a Facebook post, Wedneday morning, Hartley Henry, the principal advisor to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, said there is a "tremendous loss" of housing and public buildings on the islands.

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

There has been little communication with outer communities, but reports from people who walked 10 to 15 miles toward the city of Roseau report total destruction of homes, roads and crops.

Urgent helicopter services are needed to take food, water and tarpaulins to outer districts for shelter, according to Henry.

"In summary, the island has been devastated," he wrote.

At least eight deaths have been confirmed from Maria in the Caribbean as of 8:08 a.m. AST Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

maria emergency management

Rescue team members Candida Lozada, left, and Stephanie Rivera, right, merge into a hug desperate to go out to attend several calls for help from citizens in need of assistance during the impact of Maria.

Extreme winds from Maria are pounding Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

As of 7:17 a.m. AST Wednesday, the National Weather Service in San Juan said the San Juan metro area will experience winds of 115 mph or greater for the next two to three hours.

Maria made landfall near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, at 6:15 a.m. AST Wednesday, as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.

Puerto Rican news outlet Radio Isla 1320 reports more than 884,000 customers without power.

At least two people have been reported dead in Guadeloupe after the island suffered Maria's wrath on Tuesday. According to TeleSur TV, one man fell out of a tree, and another's body was found near the ocean. Local officials said 40 percent of homes are without power, and 25 percent are without phone service.

Flooding has been reported in Puerto Rico. One creek overran its banks in Guarbo earlier Wednesday morning. On the Rio de le Plata, water has risen from 6 to 21 feet in less than 12 hours. The river is considered to have reached flood stage at 11 feet.