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In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria Brings 'Widespread Damage And Widespread Flooding'

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We're reporting on another hurricane in the Caribbean, and this one is another whopper. Hurricane Maria is pounding Puerto Rico with a 140 mile per hour winds. And let's go to San Juan now and Danica Coto of The Associated Press. And, Danica, where are you, and what does it feel like?

DANICA COTO: I'm located in San Juan. And as the hurricane entered the southeast portion of the island, the winds were really heavy. You could barely see outside the window the rains were so heavy. And about 80 percent of homes have been destroyed in a small fishing community near the capital.

GREENE: Eight percent of the homes have been destroyed? So, I mean, this storm has literally wiped out most...

COTO: Oh, no, in a small fishing community near the capital.

GREENE: In this small village. So, I mean, this - it's that destructive it could take out, I mean, an entire small village.

COTO: Correct. I mean, the crews have still not been able to go outside to assess the damage. But reports are coming in of windows blown out, doors being blown off, roofs being blown off as well. The main police station has been damaged. Some hospitals have been damaged. There are no injuries or deaths so far reported, but there's widespread flooding and widespread damage.

GREENE: So no injuries or deaths reported yet. I guess the optimistic take on that might be that people in the most vulnerable areas, like maybe that village, evacuated. Because I know the government was saying in places that are the most vulnerable, you have to get out or you could die in this storm.

COTO: Correct. Government officials evacuated hundreds, possibly a couple thousand people from low-lying areas. Those who refused to evacuate were forcibly removed. There's nearly 12,000 people in shelters so far. There's some emergency management stations that have lost communication. And there's one emergency medical post that had its roof blown off. So the damage is still being assessed, but it's trickling in.

GREENE: And we do know some of the damage now on the island nation of Dominica, right? This storm caused, I mean, some horrific damage there.

COTO: Correct. There are seven reported deaths so far. And officials expect that to climb. And as well, there's been reports that up to 70 percent of homes have lost their roofs.

GREENE: What a storm. OK, hearing about Hurricane Maria as it now is bearing down and hitting Puerto Rico. Danica Coto of The Associated Press talking to us from San Juan. Thanks a lot, and stay safe.

COTO: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.