Days after Hurricane Maria passed over the island and made its way west toward the Dominican Republican, Puerto Rico is still struggling with the initial response to the storm – rescuing people stranded in remote villages, and moving thousands into government shelters. Meanwhile the island’s first responders are making due without electricity, gas or cell phone service after the storm dealt a knockout blow to its infrastructure.
In what was perhaps the most destructive blow to the island’s aging infrastructure, the NWS warned Friday that the Guajataca Dam in northwest Puerto Rico would soon fail, prompting the agency to issue a flash flood emergency warning for Isabela and Quebradillas municipalities. Now, authorities are scrambling to evacuate the residents of the river valley below the dam before their communities are entirely submurged. If the authorities don’t act quickly, “thousands could die” one official in charge of the rescue response said.
According to federal reservoir data, the lake behind the dam, Lago de Guajataca, rose more than three feet between Tuesday and Wednesday, when the storm was still directly over the island. More recent data were unavailable. With floodwaters gushing into the Guajataca river valley, Reuters reports that emergency officials were scrambling Friday and Saturday to evacuate its nearly 70,000 residents before their villages have been completely submerged.
Video published by CBS shows waters gushing over the top of the 90-year-old dam, sending a wall of water racing into the valley below.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 23, 2017.