Hurricane Maria heads towards Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands after battering Dominica

Army personnel evacuate the Virgin Islands in advance of Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria: Maria becomes major hurricane as winds reach 120 mph

Maria's eye was expected to move off the northern coast by the afternoon then set a course north of the Dominican Republic later in the evening.

Vieques is just 8 miles east of mainland Puerto Rico.

Rain and wind hit a parking lot at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico (Picture: Getty) Latest footage from Puerto Rico shows extremely strong winds thrashing the island.

On Monday it inflicted substantial damage on Dominica and the first aerial images of the island have emerged.

As of Tuesday evening, Maria had top winds of 175 miles per hour and a minimum pressure of 909 MBs. "She starts crying and I start crying".

"Although it looks like a direct hit with major damage to Puerto Rico is inevitable, I ask for America's prayers", he said, adding the government had set up 500 shelters.

Water and gasoline were sold out Sunday, she said.

Maria is expected to produce more than 12 inches of rainfall, which will cause "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides" in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the hurricane centre said.

NBC Connecticut spoke with Janette Hernandez via Facetime while inside her home in Puerto Rico.

Winds are likely to pick up around 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20.

People in Puerto Rico are boarding their homes and businesses as they prepare for the powerful Hurricane Maria.

Maria is expected to bring risky winds, a storm surge, and heavy rainfall to places that lie in its path.

Boquette fears it'll be a long recovery. "Effects such as potential flooding and high winds that can turn debris into risky projectiles can have a greater and more treacherous impact for us".

Hernandez's family is even going as far as keeping their chickens inside the house, where she plans to ride out the storm.

Boquette works for the Boys and Girls Club, and the club aims to reopen its centers as quickly as possible to make sure children who rely on the programs have a sense of stability during the recovery. "To see another one coming is just so discouraging".

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