Hurricane Maria made landfall in the Dominican Republic Thursday, and is now headed toward Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas, according to the latest updated from the National Hurricane Center.
While the storm made landfall in the Dominican Republic as a Category 3 storm and did cause “some trees to fall,” it did not cause any damage to hotels in the north of the island and left electricity and water services in tact according to vice minister of tourism Julio Almonte. The island’s Gregorio Luperón Airport was also left unaffected.
Rain is expected to continue over the next two days in the Dominican Republic, which could bring the total rainfall up to 20 inches.
Government officials said it had evacuated more than 4,000 tourists from the capital of Santo Domingo.
Now the storm continues its movement north in the Caribbean. On Friday morning, Maria was 35 miles east-northeast of Grand Turk Island. While it’s not forecasted to make landfall—the National Hurricane Center said that "Maria's eye will gradually move near or just east of" the islands—the storm will be close enough (about 50 miles) to the small archipelago to dump 20 inches of rain. This could lead to flash flooding and mudslides in the mountains in Hispaniola, the agency said.
It is also expected to bring storm surges of up to 12 feet to the southeastern Bahamas as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Other Caribbean islands assess damage
The storm completely knocked out Puerto Rico’s power grid, leaving the country’s 3.5 million residents without electricity, and more than 95 percent of wireless cell sites are down. Reports suggest that the island could be without power for months.
Infrastructure was left severely damaged as well. In Old San Juan, fort and buildings from the Spanish colonial era were destroyed.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told MSNBC that the devastation in the capital city was unlike any she had ever seen. "The San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there. We're looking at four to six months without electricity."
The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport began receiving very limited commercial flights Friday.
The storm also devastated the small island of Dominica, downing trees and tearing roofs off homes.