A failing dam prompted emergency evacuations of more then 300 people of two towns in northwest Puerto Rico on Friday as the U.S. territory struggled with flooding, an island-wide power blackout and other dangers in Hurricane Maria’s wake.
The government called the situation “extremely dangerous.”
The National Weather Service in San Juan said Friday that the northwestern municipalities of Isabela and Quebradillas, home to some 70,000 people, were being evacuated with buses because the nearby Guajataca Dam was failing. Details remained sketchy about the evacuation with communications hampered after the storm. The 345-yard (316-meter) dam holds back a manmade lake covering about 2 square miles and was built decades ago, U.S. government records show.
The weather service office in San Juan says dam operators reported at 2:10 p.m. that the dam at the northern end of Lake Guajataca in the northwest corner of Puerto Rico was failing and causing flash flooding downstream.
All across the battered island, residents feared power could be out for weeks — or even months — and wondered how they would cope. Some of the island’s 3.4 million residents planned to head to the U.S. to temporarily escape the desolation. At least in the short term, though, the soggy misery will continue: additional rain — up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) — is expected through Saturday.
Story by The Associated Press