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10 Numbers That Explain Hurricane Maria's Devastating Toll On Puerto Rico

23/09/2017 5:26 AM AEST | Updated 23/09/2017 5:41 AM AEST

Authorities are still assessing the toll exacted by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico this week, but it’s certain that the damage inflicted has been both massive and is likely to grow. 

“We still don’t have a lot of information,” Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN Wednesday night. “We’re virtually disconnected in terms of communications with the southeast part of the island.”

President Donald Trump signed off on a disaster declaration for the island on Thursday, but addressing the needs of the devastated island has only just begun.

RICARDO ARDUENGO via Getty Images
Cars drive through a flooded road in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in San Juan on Sept. 21, 2017.

Here’s a breakdown of the impact (so far) by the numbers:

15

At least 15 deaths have been reported so far as a result of Maria. That number is expected to grow as recovery efforts proceed.

3.4 million

That’s both the population of Puerto Rico and the number of people currently without power. Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s already fragile electrical grid, cutting off power to 100 percent of the island.

6

It could take up to six months for Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the island’s sole energy service provider, to restore power. (Complicating matters, the power authority is around $9 billion in debt.) 

80 ― 90 Percent

Carlos Mercader, a spokesman for Puerto Rico’s governor, told PBS that in the hardest hit communities on the island, almost all of the houses have been destroyed. “80 or 90 percent of the homes are a complete disaster,” he said. “They are totally lost.”

12,500

Some 12,500 people fled their homes to ride out the storm in one of Puerto Rico’s 500 shelters. Given the extent of the damage to homes, Mercader said he expects many people will be forced to live out of the shelters for weeks to come.

155 mph

That was Maria’s sustained windspeed when it made landfall as a Category 4 storm Wednesday morning, just shy of being considered a Category 5 storm, the strongest on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.

1928

Hurricane Maria was the first Category 4 storm to hit the island since 1932, and the strongest since a Category 5 storm hit Puerto Rico in 1928.

 $74 billion

The amount of debt the economically troubled U.S. territory had before the storm, not including an additional $50 billion in pension liabilities.

$1 billion

The amount of damage already inflicted on Puerto Rico by Hurricane Irma, which skirted the island just two weeks ago

$15 million

The woefully small size of Puerto Rico’s emergency fund.

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