Rescue workers help people after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria in Guayama, Puerto Rico, on 20 September 2017. Photo: Carlos Garcia / Reuters

By Holly Yan and Cassandra Santiago
20 September 2017

(CNN) – Hurricane Maria's eye has left Puerto Rico, but the mammoth storm is still lashing the island with devastating winds.

Maria weakened to a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday afternoon, hurling winds of 115 mph. But hurricane-force gusts topping 74 mph still extend over much of Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said.

Maria's brute force wiped out electricity to the entire island. "We are 100% without power," a spokesman for the Puerto Rico governor's office said Wednesday.

The storm also ripped trees out of the ground and caused widespread flooding.

"This is total devastation," said Carlos Mercader, a spokesman for Puerto Rico's governor. "Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same. … This is something of historic proportions."

Maria has already killed seven people on the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, said Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

Browne said he had been communicating with the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, who reported "widespread devastation" and whose own house was shredded by the storm.

Maria is expected to dump a total of 12 to 18 inches of rain on Puerto Rico before barreling toward the Dominican Republic. [more]

Hurricane Maria knocks out power to all of Puerto Rico, cripples other islands

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