Tropical Storm Karen floods streets across Puerto Rico
Leaves some areas in southeast with up to 5 inches of rainfall
SAN JUAN — Tropical Storm Karen was expected to produce additional rainfall Wednesday in Puerto Rico, where the system left roads across the island flooded Tuesday.
These rains may cause flash flooding and mudslides, especially in
mountainous areas, the National Hurricane Center said, adding that some areas in southeastern Puerto Rico received up to 5 inches of rainfall.
Several major roadways were impassable Tuesday, and National Weather Service meteorologist Ernesto Morales explained Tuesday that the rainfall’s resulting soil saturation can lead to flash floods and landslides.
“Although there are going to be windy moments, it is not the important danger or the biggest impact from Karen. Really, what concerns us is the expected rain,” Morales said, adding that in the “afternoon, we are going to see that these showers turn more copious and more frequent.”
The system is expected to produce rain until Wednesday, with high humidity possibly lasting until Thursday. As a result, there’s a flash flood warning for Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra, and the USVI. Likewise, the threat of landslides could last through the weekend.
During her second press conference Tuesday, Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced that the number of shelters had grown from 35 to 67, at the request of the mayors, and there were four medical shelters—in San Juan, Fajardo, Ponce and Arecibo. The shelters were equipped to receive people who would need to power medical equipment. There were 46 people in nine of the shelters Tuesday.
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority director José Ortiz indicated that the some 1,500 customers lost service due to issues unrelated to the storm and argued that on any given day about 3,000 customers lose service because of maintenance work.
Regarding the Guajataca Dam, which sustained severe damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017 and is not fully repaired, Emergency Bureau Commissioner Carlos Acevedo said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspected the dam and found no problems. Guajataca’s three warning alarms are operational, he added.
About 900 people had lost water service because a pipe broke as a result of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake north of Isabela, Puerto Rico, late Monday evening.
Since Monday, the government had ordered a prize freeze on essential items, canceled classes in the public school system and work in government agencies. Work resumed Wednesday but classes were still canceled.
The island’s main banks in the east area did not open Tuesday; however, those in the rest of the island remain open. Some businesses also closed, while others opened regularly or for limited hours, such as Plaza Las Américas, the largest shopping mall on the island, which closed at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and was closed Wednesday.
—Efrén Rodríguez contributed to this report.