'Despacito' made this neighborhood famous; Hurricane Maria left it in ruins

Maria On Satellite

A hurricane warning is in effect for Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques, Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas. Obviously, we have had hurricanes before.

MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE: Hi. How are you? A financial oversight board appointed by the U.S. Congress is now in charge of all of the island's finances. So you know, we have to - we're still getting organized to really assess the situation. The winds drive the rain. The one thing that we're proud of is that we were prepared.

MERCADER:.And 70 percent without water. We're also seeing water rising in the streets, which I know is a concern.

JOHN MUDD: It's going to be easier, politically, to do so because then you can tell the government - hey, guys, you don't have the money to do it. Forget about it.

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. And so you know, many people lost their lives in that process because we didn't even have the generators to sound off the alarms. There's about 500 shelters open nationwide. A lot of them are wood-frame houses with metal roofs.

GREENE: So, Molly, I just want to be clear here, this could be catastrophic.

Wind Analysis
Wind Analysis

Maria made landfall on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico early Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane - the first since 1932 - with sustained winds of 155 mph. Cellphone service has gone out. Power has gone out.

Hurricane Maria regained strength Thursday morning as it continued to ravage the Caribbean, with the Turks and Caicos islands next in its cross-hairs. The storm came at the islands with powerful force. We have a full curfew in the territory today. And then there was another shelter that had been opened across from that.

"We need help. With our FEMA partners and our cruise ship partners, we're bringing in a lot of food, water, tarpaulins, personal hygiene packs, cots and blankets". And a bunch of them have (unintelligible). It's a very old dam, and so it's just not working.

GREENE: And, Molly, one of the unbelievable realities here is there are people who had evacuated some of these previous hurricanes and come to Puerto Rico thinking that it was going to be safer there and are now facing this. His friend told him they had to relocate because from the hotel they were stationed in due to mold and high water. They're not sure when they're going to be able to get out, if they'll be able to go back or will have to go to the States.

MERCADER: That's right. That's right.

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