WATCH LIVE: Hurricane Maria cuts electricity, triggers flooding - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

WATCH LIVE: Hurricane Maria cuts electricity, triggers flooding across Puerto Rico

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UPDATE: Hurricane Maria knocked out power to every electricity customer in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, the governor's office said, as the monster storm lashed the economically strained U.S. territory, ripping roofs off buildings and flooding homes. 

The strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico since 1928, Maria had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph as it made landfall as a Category 4 storm near the town of Yabucoa just after 6 a.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said. As of 2 p.m., the eye of the storm, now a Category 3 with 115 mph winds, hovered around the northwestern coast of the island. 

Intense flooding was reported across the territory, especially in the capital of San Juan, where many residential streets looked like rivers. 

"Half of San Juan is flooded at this point," San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told MSNBC, adding that the devastation in her city was unlike any she had ever seen.

"We're looking at four to six months without electricity" in Puerto Rico, home to nearly 3.5 million people, she added. Luis Rivera Marin, the territory's secretary of state, confirmed to MSNBC that the entire island was without power.

Rosanna Cerezo, an attorney and radio host in the San Juan metro area, said her city was deluged. It sounded like bombs were going off when the wind toppled trees around her house, she said.

Along the beachfront, she said, cement structures had been wrenched from their foundations as islanders scrambled for refuge.

"Rooftops collapsed, windows shattered," Cerezo said via text message. "People are huddled in hallways, closets, bathrooms."

Maria was a Category 5 hurricane — the strongest there is — when it hit the Caribbean on Monday night, killing at least seven people on the island of Dominica and one person on Guadeloupe. At least two people were injured.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told reporters Tuesday that Maria "promises to be much more devastating" than Hurricane Irma, which killed at least 70 people as it plowed through the Caribbean and the southeastern United States earlier this month.

If you are in a flood zone, your life is in danger," Rosselló said. "If you are in a wooden house, your life is in danger."

The storm is expected to bring up to 25 inches of rain to Puerto Rico and some 16 inches to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The islands could also see several tornadoes throughout Wednesday.

Related: Struggling After Irma, Islanders Lament Round Two

More than 10,000 islanders were in shelters early Monday, Rosselló said, as thousands of others scrambled to evacuate.

Some islanders hunkered down at home, bracing themselves as the fierce winds rattled walls.

"The building was swaying back and forth," said Mayra Febles de Carerro, who lives in an eighth-floor apartment in the Condado area near Old San Juan. "After 4 a.m., the winds got really bad. The stronger the winds, the more the building was shaking. It was really scary."

Looking outside her window, de Carrero said it "looked like someone took a trimmer to all the vegetation," leaving behind downed trees.

President Donald Trump has declared states of emergency in both territories, and the Coast Guard has moved all its ships, aircraft and personnel out of harm's way so they can quickly launch rescue missions once the storm passes, officials said.

Puerto Rico was already struggling to dig itself out of a historic financial crisis. Maria could destroy any progress the territory has made under a year-old economic rehab plan - and set it back further.

Hurricane warnings also went up in the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata. Maria was expected to skirt just north of the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night and Thursday, according to forecasters.

The last time the region was threatened by a storm this powerful was in 1928, when the Okeechobee Hurricane roared through the Virgin Islands and slammed Puerto Rico. It killed more than 300 people there and left a trail of destruction from one end of the island to the other before heading on to Florida.

In the end, it wound up being one of the deadliest hurricanes on record to hit North America, killing more than 4,000 people — most of them poor black residents who lived near Lake Okeechobee in South Florida and whose bodies were buried in mass graves.

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