Storm batters Puerto Rico

31 Jul 2020

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Santo Domingo: A view of the Osama River after heavy rain caused by Storm Isaias on Thursday.—AFP
Santo Domingo: A view of the Osama River after heavy rain caused by Storm Isaias on Thursday.—AFP

SAN JUAN: Tropical Storm Isaias battered Puerto Rico on Thursday as it continued on a forecast track toward the US East Coast, unleashing small landslides and causing widespread flooding and power outages on an island still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds of 95 kph also toppled trees and some telephone and electrical cables across the island.

Especially hard hit was Puerto Rico’s southern region, which is still being shaken by daily tremors. Santos Seda, mayor of the southwest town of Gunica, said he has received reports of downed trees and inundated neighborhoods where earthquake-damaged homes still stand.

The emotional state of people is deteriorating more every day, he said, adding that crews will fan out to assess damage once the weather clears.

Isaias was centred about 265 kilometres southeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic late on Thursday morning, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving northwest at 31 kph, and its centre was expected to move over Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The storm knocked out power to more than 400,000 clients across Puerto Rico and left some 150,000 customers without water, according to government officials. Meanwhile, crews opened the gates of one dam that last month had such a low water level it led officials to cut service every other day for some 140,000 customers. Outages also were reported in the neighbouring US Virgin Islands.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2020