Governor urges caution amid inclement weather in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló asked residents to remain cautious Monday as remnants of Beryl produce gale conditions and heavy rainfall.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flash flood warning for several municipalities, as well as a coastal hazard message saying high rip current risk remains in effect through late Monday for the north and southwest coasts of Puerto Rico as well as Vieques and Culebra.
Up to 2 inches of rain in several areas have been reported and up to 5 inches is expected. The rains will continue for the next 10 to 12 hours. There have also been gusts of 47 miles per hour recorded in San Juan.
The southeast and northeast of the island has received much of the impact and the focus will be maintained on these two regions. of the Island.
In a special statement, the NWS said strong showers and thunderstorms are moving in to “portions of the San Juan metropolitan area, as well as portions of the eastern, southeastern, southern, central interior and eastern interior” of the island. Urban and small stream flooding has been reported and additional flooding is possible, it added.
Currently, about 25 people have sought refuge in some of the 28 active shelters located in San Juan, Ponce, Coamo, Cabo Rojo, Corozal, Hormigueros, Lajas, Morovis, Salinas, Yauco, Gurabo, Aguas Buenas, Ceiba, Canovas, Vieques, Dorado, Las Piedras , Manatí, Naranjito, Santa Isabel, Toa Baja, Vega Alta, Arroyo and Luquillo.
According to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa), 0.84% of its customers are currently without potable water service. Meanwhile, the Electric Power Authority (Prepa) reported that about 47,000 customers lost power at one point but as of 3 p.m., 12,858 remained without service. Of these, 1,527 have not had power since Hurricane Maria in September.
The governor mentioned that the 1,400 grid workers on duty have 12,500 utility poles and 3,000 transformers among the available materials to work with.
Prepa’s operations director, Carlos Alvarado, said in a WKAQ radio interview outages were reported and assured that the grid, which was mostly devastated by Hurricane Maria, will withstand these weather conditions.
“Although the system is a bit fragile because provisional work was done, it is also worth noting that the system is more strengthened than when we had the situation with Maria, since over 40,000 poles were replaced, miles of new cables were installed, thousands of transformers,” Alvarado said, adding, “we believe the system…is a little stronger than with María….”
However, he expressed concern over landslides, which could cause trees to fall on the power lines, as well as lightning that could affect the lines.
“We have…personnel in the seven regions, the 26 technical districts to attend to all those situations. That people do not despair. We have the staff, we have the outstanding team, we have reinforcements of companies already working with us that are in the [power] restoration phase. They can also be activated to [work on] the system with this event,” Alvarado said.
“There will always be lightning, floods, landslides, something that breaks off or branches due to some gusts of wind that interfere with our lines, as there will be customer situations without service. But, what I want to make very clear is that we have the equipment, the materials to address this situation. This is not Maria. It’s much less. We hope that the situations that happen will be much less and we have all the personnel out on the street to work on it,” he added.
According to the release issued by the governor’s office, La Fortaleza, the Patillas, La Plata, Toa Vaca, Carite, Río Blanco, Caonillas, Fajardo and Cerrillos dams are at secure levels. The Carraízo, Cidra and Guajataca dams are under observation, as they are registering levels that are “a little low.”
For its part, the Department of Health said Public and private hospitals are running normally throughout the island. So far, the Transportation Department said, the mass transit, with its services such as the Metropolitan Bus Authority, the Maritime Transportation Authority, and the Urban Train are functioning normally.
The Department of Consumer Affairs also announced it has fuel-distribution protocols in place with retailers and wholesalers. A price freeze remains in effect.
–Cybernews contributed to this report.