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Hurricane Irma Begins Pounding Puerto Rico With Wind And Rain


As destructive as Harvey was, Hurricane Irma could be worse. It's a monster and could very well hit South Florida this weekend.


Irma is now a Category 5 hurricane churning through the Caribbean with maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour. That's 28 miles per hour higher than the threshold of a Category 5. There is no category 6.

SHAPIRO: Puerto Rico is under a state of emergency. Rain and wind from the storm began pounding the island this morning. Electricity is already out in some places.

ELENA BIAMON: (Through interpreter) We were trying to collect water in our containers and - to get drinkable and filtered water - to have enough of it because probably we're going to run out of water.

SHAPIRO: Elena Biamon owns a farm west of San Juan.

BIAMON: (Through interpreter) We couldn't do much with the plantation because there's not much that can be done. Our coffee is not ripe yet. We did what we could, but a Category 5 I have never lived through.

SIEGEL: Also west of San Juan - Jorge Besu. He left the city to ride out the storm at his mother's house with his family. He says they have enough supplies to last a few days.

JORGE BESU: Twelve gallons of water, canned foods that we could also prepare on our propane grill, propane gas and ice so we can keep our food cold.

LUIS TRELLES: Well, I'm concerned. I've seen two major hurricanes, and they were both Category 3. It was tough going, but we weathered it.

SHAPIRO: Luis Trelles lives in San Juan. He's less concerned about surviving Irma and more concerned with surviving the recovery. He says the island's infrastructure is not in good shape.

TRELLES: Who knows how many months we'll go without power, without water, without Internet. The director of Puerto Rico's power authority already announced that it could be up to four or five months before some areas get their power back.

SHAPIRO: Trelles adds that Puerto Ricans are resilient. They're hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.