The Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour is threatening to decimate the power company's crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities.
If Maria retains its strength, it would be the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years, since a Category 4 storm swept the territory in 1932, Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.
"Some fluctuations in intensity could occur before the hurricane reaches Puerto Rico, but Maria is forecast to remain an extremely unsafe category 4 or 5 hurricane as it moves near or over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico".
On the forecast track, the hurricane is expected to hit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Tuesday night and Wednesday. Data from San Juan's radar - before it went down - and observations from a Hurricane Hunter aircraft showed that the outer eye wall was now dominant and had increased from 10 nautical miles to 30. The storm was upgraded from a category two to three and then five in just one day.
TROPICAL TIDBITSHurricane Maria could brush parts of the US's east coast
Just one Category 5 hurricane has hit Puerto Rico in recorded history, back in 1928. More than 4,400 people were in shelters by late Tuesday, Rosello said.
It's still to early to know if the storm will impact the East Coast of the USA and more specifically, the Carolinas.
A live satellite image of Hurricane Maria will appear in the player above.
An entire roof was blown off this home in the village of Goyave in Guadeloupe on Tuesday. "We shall survive by the grace of God", he added.
"There's no way of getting to airport and if she could get to the airport, there was no flights out and if there were, they were extremely expensive", he said.
Grisele Cruz sought safety in a school, saying facing another storm means- "we're going to be without services for a long time".
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