An aerial view alone attests to the devastation left behind from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
"The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years," said Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez. "I can't deny that the Puerto Rico of now is different from that of a week ago. The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island's greenery is gone."
Hundreds of thousands of homes were completely destroyed across both islands with almost one million people without water. At least 15 communities across the Dominican Republic are cut off from the mainland due to the immense flooding from the Yuna River and heavy downpour.
According to a report from the Center for Emergency Operations, at least 57 Dominican communities are isolated after the overflow of rivers and streams, resulting in landslides days after Hurricane Maria, which caused damage to 14 bridges, five highways and 58 aqueducts.
In Puerto Rico, the 90-year-old Guajataca Dam, which is constructed of a combination of cement and soil, still poses a threat of bursting as erosion works its way into the cracks of its foundation. The dam wraps around a reservoir which measures roughly five kilometers.
Governor Ricardo Rossello stated that engineers are on the scene, analyzing the best course of action. The flood warning was extended to Monday for residents of western Puerto Rico, National Weather Service of San Juan tweeted.
The Puerto Rican government has ordered the eviction of 70,000 people who could be in danger from the Guajataca and Toa Vaca dams.
"This is a major disaster," Rossello said. "We've had extensive damage. This is going to take some time."
The governor said Maria had claimed the lives of at least 10 people so far, while reports from the Dominican Republic say there are at least 15 fatalities and 20 others reported missing.
According to the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, 4,000 members of the U.S. Army Reserves will be arriving on the island, which is a colony of the United States.
The Board of Supervision and Financial Administration for Puerto Rico authorized the island government to redistribute up to US$1 billion for emergency funds.
After its departure from the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria continues to spiral upwards towards the U.S. east coast, heading towards North Carolina and a popular tourist destination, the Ocracoke island just off its coast.
The regional officials have ordered an immediate evacuation, canceling ferry reservations and waiving tolls to assist in the process.
The National Hurricane Center reports that Maria has slowed to 130 kph winds, downgraded to a Category 1 storm and predicts it will reach North Carolina’s outer coast Tuesday and Wednesday. Maria’s powerful winds are not expected to touch land.