hurricane maria damage sg orig_00002516.jpg
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SAN ISIDRO, PUERTO RICO - OCTOBER 15:  Uncollected debris stand near damaged homes in an area without electricity on October 15, 2017 in San Isidro, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is suffering shortages of food and water in many areas and only 15 percent of grid electricity has been restored. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid as well as agriculture after Hurricane Maria, a category 4 hurricane, swept through.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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Residents of San Juan, Puerto Rico, deal with damages to their homes on September 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria batters the island. 
Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph).
 / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL        (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
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Residents of San Juan, Puerto Rico, deal with damages to their homes on September 20, 2017, as Hurricane Maria batters the island. Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Wednesday, cutting power on most of the US territory as terrified residents hunkered down in the face of the island's worst storm in living memory. After leaving a deadly trail of destruction on a string of smaller Caribbean islands, Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico's southeast coast around daybreak, packing winds of around 150mph (240kph). / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
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Hurricane Maria pummels Puerto Rico

Story highlights

The neighborhood where hit video 'Despacito' was filmed was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria

It had recently become a tourist hub after being considered crime-ridden for decades

(CNN) —  

For decades, tourists visiting Puerto Rico had avoided San Juan’s La Perla neighborhood, long reputed to be a hotbed of crime and drugs.

In recent years, residents of the low-income neighborhood had worked hard to change its image – and they got a huge boost when Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee chose to film the music video for their hit song “Despacito” there in 2016.

In the video, the camera pans over brightly colored homes stacked closely together alongside the rocky beach, walls tagged with vibrant graffiti, and streets filled with people dancing.

Since its release, La Perla has become a popular tourist destination.

But when Hurricane Maria swept across the island on Wednesday, it dealt the area a heavy blow.

The stretch of beach where Fonsi stood in several parts of the music video.
Jessica Ríos/El Nuevo Día
The stretch of beach where Fonsi stood in several parts of the music video.

Many of the brilliantly-colored buildings have been torn apart, leaving only hints of what once was – a bright yellow wall, jumbled in a mess of debris; deep red and royal blue foundations standing amid downed power lines and clusters of wooden beams.

Jessica Ríos/El Nuevo Día
Jessica Ríos/El Nuevo Día
Jessica Ríos/El Nuevo Día
Jessica Ríos/El Nuevo Día
Jessica Ríos/El Nuevo Día
Jessica Ríos/El Nuevo Día

The ‘Despacito’ video was released in January and has over 3.7 billion views on YouTube. The video is the most-viewed of all time, was the first to hit two and three billion views, and is the most liked in YouTube history, with over 21 million likes.

Fonsi posted a picture of the neighborhood on Instagram in July congratulating the people of La Perla for their restoration project saying that “thanks to Despacito, I am part of you.”

In a separate post about his song, the artist wrote: “Puerto Rico is the true protagonist of this song and video. It was always my great inspiration.”

CNN’s Braden Goyette contributed to this report.