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Trees, fences fall as Maria hits Puerto Rico
01:03 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Irma ravaged the Caribbean with sustained winds of 185 mph and cut a swath of devastation across lush islands that are home to an estimated 1.2 million people.

Now Hurricane Maria is following a similar path, unleashing its fury on Puerto Rico after killing seven people and causing “widespread devastation” on the island of Dominica.

Here’s how the two storms compare.

Irma’s path of destruction

Irma left at least 44 people dead in its wake: 11 in the French territories, 10 in Cuba, five in the British Virgin Islands, five in the US Virgin Islands, four in Anguilla, four in St. Maarten, three in Puerto Rico, one in Haiti, and one in Barbuda.

Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin/St. Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos were hardest hit.

Barbuda: The eye of the storm passed directly over the small island, leaving it barely habitable. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA) said 99% of all buildings were destroyed. Virtually the entire population of the island was evacuated to nearby Antigua.

Puerto Rico: The island’s northeast corner was hit the hardest as Irma roared by to the north. Officials said 56,680 customers were left without water and hundreds of thousands were left without power.

Cuba: Irma grazed the island’s northern shore, affecting 13 of the country’s 15 provinces. Widespread flooding was reported and key agricultural crops like plantains, rice and sugarcane were damaged. Food storage areas were left isolated or destroyed by flooding. Some 132 schools suffered severe damage and nearly two-thirds of the country was still without electricity late last week, according to state-run news.

Anguilla: On the tiny island that is among several British territories in the Caribbean, 90% of all government buildings were severely affected and 80-90% of schools were damaged, the UNOCHA said. Electricity and phone lines were disrupted, hospitals were left with limited capabilities and there was no running water.

St. Martin/St. Maarten: Irma hammered this 87-square kilometer island, split into territories administered by France and the Netherlands, leaving many residents without shelter, fuel and electricity. Some resorted to looting and fighting over dwindling food supplies before order was restored. Authorities on the French side estimated 60% of homes are uninhabitable.

British Virgin Islands: Ninety percent of the houses on the North Sound of Virgin Gorda had structural or total damage. In nearby Spanish Town, 75% of the homes were damaged. The island’s water systems were significantly damaged and electricity was scarce.

Turks and Caicos: Infrastructure was severely damaged on this British overseas territory, home to about 52,000 people, after Irma barreled through. There was no electricity, bottled water was limited and damage to a water treatment plant halted distribution of drinkable water. On South Caicos, 80-90% of homes were damaged and schools, government buildings and hospitals were badly hit.

Maria’s path

While Maria is ultimately expected to veer northeast of Irma’s path, it has been taking a roughly parallel journey so far through the Caribbean. The two storms’ paths were expected to intersect northeast of Puerto Rico.

Dominica: Maria killed seven people on the island nation of Dominica, said Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. Browne said he was communicating with the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, whose own house was shredded by the storm. Maria is now the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in Dominica, a former French and British colony whose economy relies heavily on tourism and agriculture. The storm pounded the island with 160 mph (257 kph) winds and caused “widespread devastation,” Skerrit said Tuesday.

Guadeloupe: Maria killed one man in Guadeloupe after he ignored orders to stay inside and was struck by a falling tree, the island’s government said. Two other people are missing after a boat sank off the coast of La Désirade, a smaller island near the mainland of Guadeloupe. The government said about 80,000 people, or 40% of the households on the island, are without power.

Puerto Rico: The hurricane was churning Wednesday across northern Puerto Rico after making landfall on the island’s southeast coast. It has ripped numerous trees out of the ground and broken two National Weather Service radars.

“This is total devastation,” said Carlos Mercader, a spokesman for Puerto Rico’s governor. “Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same. … This is something of historic proportions.”

Residents in low-lying, flood-prone areas were evacuated, while more than 10,000 Puerto Ricans heeded calls to go to emergency shelters. Calls for rescue were pouring in Wednesday morning, but conditions were too dangerous for emergency responders to act.

Other islands: A hurricane warning was in effect Wednesday for the British and US Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos, the southeastern Bahamas and the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for St. Martin/St. Maarten, which is still reeling from Irma’s destruction.

CNN’s Brandon Griggs, Holly Yan, Euan McKirdy, Jaide Timm-Garcia, Eliza Mackintosh and Kara Fox contributed to this story.