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Puerto Rico dam at risk of ‘imminent’ collapse

Puerto Rico Guajataca dam collapse 3to2

The Guajataca Dam in Puerto Rico is in “imminent” danger of collapse after hurricane Maria hit the country last Friday.

Warnings made by the National Weather Service in San Juan said the dam could break at any moment and evacuation of nearby regions Quebradillas and Isabela was necessary to avoid loss of life.

On Saturday state governor Ricardo Rossello said he had observed the damage directly and reaffirmed the request to evacuate the area.

It has been reported 70,000 people will be affected if the dam fails and there are flash floods in the surrounding area. However, it has been reported that limited information has reached the affected people due to damage by the storm knocking out critical infrastructure, slowing communication.

The spillway of the dam, in the north west of the island, has already failed and experts have been reported to say they don’t know how long before it collapses fully.

Water data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) soon after the hurricane hit, showed the water level in the dam rising sharply causing the potential failure.

Water level in the Guajataca Dam

Water level in the Guajataca Dam

Source: Water data from the U.S. Geological Survey

The dam was built in 1929 by the dam Puerto Rico Energy and Power Authority (PREPA) to provide public water and irrigation water supply.

Hurricane Maria swept through the island on Friday last week and has left the country without power with large parts flooded.

PREPA chief executive Ricardo Ramos said he hoped power could be restored within three to four months.

 

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