Evacuations Underway as Dam Fails in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria has caused flooding on the island with more on the way
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2017 4:43 PM CDT

(Newser) – Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated in Puerto Rico after reports of a dam failing Friday, CBS News reports. According to NPR, the National Weather Service announced the Guajataca Dam was failing, causing flash flooding on the Guajataca River. Buses are trying to evacuate the cities of Isabela and Quebradillas—home to about 70,000 people. But details on the damage to the dam and evacuation were sparse as communication is still difficult following Hurricane Maria's battering of the island. “It’s a structural failure. I don’t have any more details,” the Guardian quotes Gov. Ricardo Rossello as saying. “We’re trying to evacuate as many people as possible.”

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The Guajataca Dam was built decades ago and holds back a man-made lake of about 2 square miles. The National Weather Service is warning of a "life-threatening" situation and advising people to "move to higher ground now." At least seven rivers in Puerto Rico are currently above "flood stage" and much of the island is under a flash-flood warning through Friday. Puerto Rico averages about 10 inches of rain for the entire month of September; some areas of the island have received nearly 40 in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Up to 6 inches of rain is expected through Saturday, and heavy rain is expected on and off until Tuesday. (Read more Hurricane Maria stories.)

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