Hurricane Irma — one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic — hammered Puerto Rico on Wednesday night after smashing a string of small northern Caribbean islands where at least three people were killed.
According to CNN’s Leyla Santiago, in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, said there were 900,000 customers without power as strong winds lashed the island.
Speaking to CNN, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN he thinks the island was being hit hard even though the eye of the storm stayed off shore.
“From the center of operations that we have over here in San Juan, there is pretty significant damage already done,” he said, citing wind gusts of more than 100 mph.
The outer bands of the storm continued to whip heavy rain upon the island late Wednesday.
Tourist Steban Guajardo said that water in the parking lot of a building he was at in the seaside neighborhood of Condado just kept rising.
The aid charity Oxfam estimates that up to three million people could be affected by Irma in Haiti as it due to pass north of Hispaniola.
Some people in coastal areas of Haiti have ignored orders to evacuate, according to Oxfam’s Tania Escamilla who is Cap Haitien – Haiti’s second city.
She said: “I get the sense that people here are used to hurricanes and no-one seems frantically scared, but I’ve heard from many that some areas of the country haven’t even fully recovered from Hurricane Matthew last year – and now they’re facing this.
“While many are moving, there are quite a few people who have decided not to evacuate but to stay put instead, fearing to lose their belongings and home.”
“We fear that half-a-million people could be affected even in the best-case scenario – or as many as 3 million in the worst”.