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NARANJITO, Puerto Rico — Twenty miles from their capital of San Juan, Puerto Ricans still are marooned in a once-lush landscape that Hurricane Maria raked almost entirely of greenery 10 days ago.They are without running water, electricity or consistent communications with the rest of the world.
Obtaining necessities such as water, food and fuel for cars and generators is a daylong mission for each item. But across the Plata River from a long line of cars and people waiting for drinkable water from a tower, a smaller line formed near a PVC pipe trickling water from a hillside spring.
“When it rains, we don’t come,” Ramos said as she watched people fill coolers, pales and bottles to put in their cars. “We gather water from the downspouts and wash clothes by hand.”
Michelle Rebollo, Ramos’ mother, said gathering this water was today’s task.
“Tomorrow we’re going to try to find gasoline,” Rebollo said in perfect English. “Then, we’ll try to get money. Each one is a whole day.”
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Saturday that 714 gas stations, more than half the stations in Puerto Rico, are operating and receiving fuel. But many of the stations lining the roads near Naranjito were closed or confronted travelers with a sign: “No hay gasolina,” no gasoline.
Puerto Rico will receive more fuel in coming days with eight deliveries from Sunday to the next Saturday, Rosselló said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Puerto Rican National Guard are working to deliver food and water to hard-to-access places, set up telecommunications in municipal centers and deliver needed supplies to hospitals, the governor said.
“Today we have 51 to 53 of 69 hospitals open, depending on how you measure it,” he said. “Nine of those hospitals are energized,” meaning they have a normal electric power supply and do not depend on an emergency generator.
The death toll from Maria has reached 16 so far and is likely to rise, the governor said.
Some of the proceeds will go towards helping the people in Puerto Rico
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Hurricane Maria has knocked out power to the entire island of Puerto Rico, home to 3.5m people, emergency officials have said.
Abner Gómez, head of the disaster management agency, said the hurricane had damaged “everything in its path”.
None of the customers of Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority had any electricity, he said.
Maria weakened to a category three storm with winds of 115 mph (185km/h) as it moved across the island.
“The information we received is not encouraging,” Mr Gómez told a briefing, urging people to stay in their homes.
Earlier, Puerto Rico’s governor asked President Donald Trump to declare the island a disaster area after the storm unleashed heavy flooding and life-threatening winds.Governor Ricardo Rossello said major damage was inevitable, although 500 shelters had been established to protect people.
The devastating storm has already left seven people dead on the island of Dominica, which was badly affected on Monday.
Aerial footage shows flattened houses and the death toll on Dominica is likely to rise, with details remaining scant as communication links are down.
Images shared on social media show roofs being stripped away as winds as strong as 140 mph (225 km/h) whipped trees and power lines in Puerto Rico’s capital city, San Juan.
Maria made landfall in Yabucoa in the east of Puerto Rico early on Wednesday, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The US territory is facing $73bn in public debt and the damage left by Maria could exacerbate its financial crisis. Declaring a disaster would mean the island could receive more federal assistance in its recovery.
“God is with us; we are stronger than any hurricane,” Mr Rossello said. “Together we will rise again.”
Puerto Rico has experienced just one category five storm since 1851 – the Okeechobee Hurricane in 1928.
Maria is the second storm of this strength to hit the Caribbean this hurricane season – the first being category five Irma earlier in September. Maria began moving roughly along the same track as Irma.
Officials in Puerto Rico feared the debris left by Irma could prove extremely dangerous in the high winds.