This hurricane season has been one of the worst in recent years and another massive storm is taking aim at the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles.
According to NBC News, Hurricane Maria has rapidly strengthened and began its route to the Caribbean earlier this week. Many of these islands have been in recovery mode since Hurricane Irma caused significant damage just a few days prior, and now Maria is bearing down, which has led to even more destruction.
The National Hurricane Center stated that Maria, equipped with sustained winds of 135 mph, was recently just 45 minutes east-southeast of Dominica. Now, it’s hit Puerto Rico, and, according to The Washington Post, wind speeds could reach up to as high as 160 mph.
“Maria is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 12 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches across the central and southern Leeward Islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, through Wednesday night,” said Bill Karins, NBC News meteorologist.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello warned that the oncoming storm could bring even more rain, wind, and destruction than Irma, which killed three people in Puerto Rico and wreaked havoc across the entire North Atlantic Ocean.
“This is going to impact all of Puerto Rico with a force and violence that we haven’t seen for several generations,” Rossello said. “We’re going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico. We’re going to have to rebuild.”
Sadly, not only do the people in the path of the storm have to prepare for physical damage, they have to watch out for fraudsters in the weeks and months ahead as well.
According to Forbes, the FBI found 15 fake fundraising websites after Hurricane Katrina, one fraudulent website even raised $600,000.
Though people will have to be vigilant about donations and scammers in the upcoming weeks, they have to focus on the storm directly ahead first.
“The priority is to be prepared and save lives,” Rossello added.
Across many of these islands, there are people both leaving their homes in hopes of safety and preparing their properties to the best of their ability.
“We’re praying to God that it will weaken out at sea,” said Sonia Yanguas, 76, who lives in a ninth-floor apartment off the coast of San Juan. “I’m going to prepare my apartment right now and then I’m going to a hotel [with my two sons and four grandchildren].”
Severin Pradel, who lives in the British Virgin Islands, said that everyone in the area is sick of these storms and subsequent destruction.
“People are frustrated and saying, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe it, we can’t take another one,'” Pradel said. “After Maria we’ll have to start all over.”