Puerto Rico had half as many people the last time it saw a hurricane this bad

Posted at 5:21 AM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 08:48:00-04

Hurricane Maria 5a Wednesday update

Hurricane Maria became the strongest storm to make landfall in Puerto Rico in 85 years when it barreled ashore Wednesday morning as a Category 4.

In 1932, the San Ciprián hurricane made landfall in late September, pummeling the island for eight long hours.

At the time, the population of Puerto Rico was a little more than 1.5 million people.

Today, more than 3.3 million people call the US territory home.

San Ciprián, with winds of 145 mph, ripped across the entire island from east to west. More than 3,000 people suffered injuries and 225 died.

Another 250,000 had no homes to go back to.

Structural damages totaled more than $1.5 million, according to records kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That amounts to $27.5 million today.

Maria arrived near Yabucoa, whipping the island with winds of 155 mph, just 2 mph shy of Category 5 strength.

It came barely two weeks after Hurricane Irma destroyed buildings and caused widespread power loss.

President Trump and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló issued emergency declarations ahead of Maria’s arrival.

In the hours before the storm made landfall, more than 10,000 Puerto Ricans heeded calls to take refuge in shelters. Emergency workers, Rosselló had warned, wouldn’t be around to help once winds reached 50 mph.

“This is an unprecedented atmospheric system,” he said Tuesday.

And it’s one that Puerto Rico hopes doesn’t leave it in ruins like San Ciprián did.