Puerto Rico Dam Breach: “Situation Dire”

By Faye Higbee

A Puerto Rico Dam, the 90 year old Guajataca Dam, was said to be in danger of breaking from a “controlled breach.” The government of the island sent buses to evacuate thousands who live in the area. A flash flood warning was issued and extended to 0800 a.m. Saturday morning local time.

“Move to higher ground now. This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.” National Weather Service, San Juan

USA today noted,

The Guajataca Dam, completed in 1927 and last inspected in October 2013, is maintained by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, according to a 2016 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers. It is a hydroelectric dam, 120 feet high, holding water from the Guajataca River in Teranova County.

Fox reported:

More than 15 inches (nearly 40 centimeters) of rain fell on the surrounding mountains after the Category 4 Maria left the island Wednesday afternoon, swelling the reservoir behind the nearly 90-year-old dam.

An engineer inspecting the dam reported a “contained breach” that officials quickly realized was a crack that could be the first sign of total failure of the dam, U.S. National Weather Service meteorologist Anthony Reynes said.

The issue of debris has contributed to the reservoir to rising perilously in addition to the crack found by inspectors.

The power in Puerto Rico may be out for months, according to reports. Their electrical grid wasn’t in great shape anyway, as their crushing debt left routine maintenance behind.

Cell phone towers were downed leaving phones dead across the island. A shipment of 250 FEMA Satellite phones was being flown in to be delivered to city Mayors across the island so that they could communicate. The extent of the disaster in Puerto Rico is still not known.

Some of the 3.4 million residents have left for the mainland at least temporarily. USA Today reported that 13 people have died on Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria.