Weakened dam looms as latest threat to Puerto Rico after hurricane

Weakened dam looms as latest threat to Puerto Rico after hurricane

4 p.m. UPDATE: The death toll from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is now at least 10.

The Urban Search and Rescue Team (US&R) Task Force 6 along with several other teams deployed from Riverside to assist with the rescue effort.

"The dam, which stands about 120 feet (37 meters) tall, was built in 1929 and supplies the surrounding region with hydropower, drinking water and irrigation supplies".

Puerto Rican officials could not communicate with more than half the towns in the USA territory as they rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people downstream of a failing dam. With roads blocked and phones dead, officials said, the situation may worsen.

More than 15 inches of rain fell on the mountains surrounding the Guajataca dam in northwest Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria left the island Wednesday afternoon, swelling the reservoir behind the almost 90-year-old dam.

The island's electric grid was in sorry shape long before Maria struck. She says she's anxious and nervous wondering when she'll hear from her cousins, uncles and aunts again.

It holds back a man-made lake covering about five square kilometres.


"We haven't seen the extent of the damage", Governor Ricardo Rossello said.

Rossello couldn't say when power might be restored. As a result the power company abandoned most basic maintenance in recent years, leaving the island subject to regular blackouts. "There is tremendous damage on the island", said William Booher, director of public affairs for FEMA.

President Trump has issued disaster declarations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Its first trip of that kind was Friday, when a plane took relief workers and family members from Miami to the island, along with food, water, lanterns, cots, tarps, fans, batteries, boots and generators.

Many believe Congress shares some of the responsibility for the economic crisis, in part for the 2006 repeal of a tax exemption that helped turn Puerto Rico into a global manufacturing hub, especially for pharmaceuticals.

"This storm crushed us from one end of the island to the other", she said. If everyone leaves, what are we going to do?

Late Saturday, JetBlue Airways said that it planned to send three planes to Puerto Rico and fly three planes from the island to certain cities in Florida and NY on Sunday.

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