Officials in Puerto Rico feared the debris left by Irma could prove extremely risky in the high winds.
The island has been devastated by the storm, with rivers bursting their banks and massive floods swamping residential areas. Hurricane-force winds now extend outward up to 60 miles (95 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles (240 kilometers).
The storm, which is larger than the size of the entire island, is moving across Puerto Rico at 10 miles per hour.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Wednesday will prove to be a day of destruction in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria pummels the island throughout the day, with winds and rain lasting some 24 hours in all.
Maria was the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall on Dominica; before Monday the strongest hurricane to hit Dominica was Hurricane David, a Category 4 in 1979. Now it's on course for Puerto Rico. "We have about 500 shelters". It urged residents to stay indoors and take shelter in their most secure room. "But really, we have some weak infrastructure in terms of some of the homes that we have in Puerto Rico". To be honest, we just want this damn storm to go away.
Puerto Rico had always been spared from a direct hit by hurricanes that tend to veer north or south of the island.
In the capital of San Juan, most businesses are closed or closing early today and the San Juan Airport is closing this evening.
Prime Minister Skerrit said he and other officials were waiting for daybreak to do an assessment of the damage.
He said in a statement Wednesday that there has been a "tremendous loss of housing and public buildings" in the mountainous island but the full extent of the damage isn't known.
Officials said almost 2,800 people had arrived at shelters across the island, with 105 pets, by late Tuesday. "Don't be asleep. It's okay to rest, but be vigilant and aware of what's going on around your property", Mapp said, according to The Miami Herald.
The hurricane hit the USA territory on Monday evening local time.
"We have a big one coming right now", he said. She described trees down, roofs blown off and widespread flooding.
Puerto Rico - which is home to about 3.4 million people - has been preparing for Maria. "I've never seen that except for on TV but that's what it looks like", said Perkins, who does Street View and virtual-reality tours for Google.
Mangiaracina and Perkins weren't the only ones to leave the US Virgin Islands, only to move into the crosshairs of another storm. Maria promises to be worse. "Since the ground was already saturated because of Irma.it has magnified the flooding". The small island was also battered by Hurricane Irma just two weeks ago.
BEWARE OF MISINFORMATION: As you seek online information on these tropical systems, watch out for "hype sites" and provocative social media posts that only showcase the more dire computer forecast model solutions. I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured.
The Guadeloupe prefecture said one person was killed by a falling tree and at least two people were missing in a shipwreck.