Federal officials say they are prepared to help.
President Trump said on Wednesday that he had “never seen” winds like the ones generated by Hurricane Maria as it made landfall in Puerto Rico.
“We have a big one going right now — I’ve never seen winds like this — in Puerto Rico,” he said as he entered a meeting in New York with King Abdullah II of Jordan. “You take a look at what’s happening there, and it’s just one after another.”
The king extended his “condolences” to residents in the path of the three storms that have hit the United States over the last several weeks, adding, “For us sitting on the outside, looking at how the Americans came together at a difficult time, is really an example to everybody else.”
On CNN, Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that the agency was well positioned to help on Puerto Rico and on the United States Virgin Islands.
Mr. Long confirmed that both areas had fragile power systems. “It’s going to be a very frustrating event to get the power back on,” he said.
‘There was howling in every part of this house,’ said a St. Croix resident.
Residents of the Virgin Islands, whose homes were damaged by Irma two weeks ago, had been urged to find new shelters to ride out Maria.
The storm began pounding the Virgin Islands on Tuesday evening, and a flash-flood alert was sent to residents’ cellphones at 10:05 p.m., Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp of the United States Virgin Islands said. He had warned that hurricane-strength winds were likely to batter the islands until Wednesday morning.
The core of the storm passed south of the Virgin Islands, with the outer eyewall lashing St. Croix.
“There was howling in every part of this house,” said Ernice Gilbert, a journalist who lives on the east side of the island. “In my area, the winds were ferocious. But the bulk of the winds were expected to hit strongest in the southwest.”
At one point, he said, the rafters of his house began “cracking,” and part of his wall had cracked. The strong winds forced him to barricade his doors with couches, Mr. Gilbert said.
“That was the scariest portion of the ordeal for me,” he said by telephone.
Communications were largely out across the United States Virgin Islands on Wednesday, and its government was assessing the damage, said Garry Green, the emergency operations supervisor at the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency.
Maria had battered the island nation of Dominica a day earlier. Prime Minister Skerrit described the damage as “mind-boggling” and wrote on Facebook that he had to be rescued after winds ripped the roof off his official residence. But little information has emerged since then, with the storm having taken out phone and power lines on the island.
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