Natural Disasters Hurricanes
09222017_Puerto_Rico_Maria_02.jpg Carlos Giusti/AP

People walk next to a gas station flooded and damaged by the impact of Hurricane Maria, which hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis.

September 22, 2017

Photos from hurricane-thrashed Puerto Rico: 'This storm crushed us'

Even before the Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island was in dire condition.Still reeling from a decade-long economic slide that was far deeper than the Great Recession on the mainland and that many islanders feel was largely ignored by Washington.

Now, nearly all 3.4 million people on the island are sitting in the dark amid widespread pessimism about the future of this tropical U.S. territory and whether they should expect much help. Along streets strewn with tree limbs, downed power lines and muck, it's easy to find Puerto Ricans trying to decide if they should pick up and leave, joining the 450,000 who have moved to the mainland over the past decade in search of a better life.

Authorities confirmed at least six deaths but were still assessing the damage and trying to reach communities cut off by the storm.

"This is an absolute crisis," 44-year-old Alana Yendez said as she cradled her 2-month-old grandson and gave him a bottle of scarce baby formula in the Santurce section of San Juan. "This storm crushed us from one end of the island to the other."

An Associated Press photographer captured the following images of the terrible conditions:

NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

People walk next to a gas station flooded and damaged by the impact of Hurricane Maria, which hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

El Negro community resident Irma Torres Rodriguez tries to stay calm after losing part of her roof to the fury of Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico, on Thursday, September 21, 2017. The island is expected to be without power for weeks, authorities said.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

Electricity poles and lines lay toppled on the road after Hurricane Maria hit Humacao, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. It was the strongest hurricane to hit the island in more than 80 years.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

A ruined house is seen in El Negro community a day after the impact of Hurricane Maria, in Puerto Rico, on Thursday, September 21, 2017.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

Municipal government personnel clear the roads after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, September 21, 2017.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

Rescue personnel from the Emergency Management Agency drive through a flooded road after Hurricane Maria hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico on Tuesday, September 20, 2017.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

A plantain field stands under water after the passing of Hurricane Maria in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico on Thursday, September 21, 2017. The storm was expected to approach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas late Thursday and early Friday.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

Rescue vehicles from the Emergency Management Agency stand trapped under an awning during the impact of Hurricane Maria, which hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

“What's important is one's life” says Rufina Fernandez, seen standing in front of her daughter's ruined home while eating a coconut, a day after the impact of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico on Thursday, September 21, 2017.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

Julio Morales and Miriam Pagan stand on the front of their damaged home, in El Negro community a day after the impact of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico, on Thursday, September 21, 2017.


NoneCarlos Giusti/AP

A man looks at the horizon early in the morning after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico on Thursday, September 21, 2017.