Today, I’d like to share with you my dedicated readers and friends the current situation of my beloved homeland my isla. Hurricane Irma’s wrath in the Caribbean left at least seven people dead and thousands of others without homes on Thursday and the vicious storm isn’t done yet with its sights now set on Florida. Three deaths have been reported from Puerto Rico. Winds blowing at 185 miles per hour for at least 24 straight hours, the Category 5 storm is said to be the strongest ever recorded in the open Atlantic Ocean.
Hurricane Irma plunged more than 1 million Puerto Rican homes and businesses into the dark, swamped homes and clogged roads with debris but didn’t appear to deliver widespread destruction to the Caribbean island as it roared offshore. The eye of the Category 5 storm, packing 185 mph winds, rumbled about 30 miles north of Puerto Rico, sending more than 6,200 people and 500 pets scurrying to shelters across the island.
One million people were without power in Puerto Rico on Thursday as the eye of the storm passed just north of the U.S. territory. Downed light posts and blocked roadways were common and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló warned of more flooding and rain through Saturday.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló praised the work of residents and emergency crews in heeding calls to evacuate flood-prone areas but warned heavy rains were still moving through parts of the island and urged everyone to remain vigilant.
“The people of Puerto Rico responded to the call for preparation and took this event seriously,” Rosselló said Thursday. “Your actions saved lives.”
Ricardo Ramos, chief executive of the island’s electric utility, said about two-thirds of the island’s electric customers — more than 1 million — were without power late Wednesday. More than 56,000 people were without potable water.
Still, because Puerto Rico was spared a direct hit, Rosselló said more than 40 percent of the island’s hospitals were still operating thanks to generators.
As Irma marched toward the Dominican Republic and Cuba, it left a deluge of rain and swollen waterways across Puerto Rico, an island of 3.4 million people. Seven rivers throughout Puerto Rico were running above flood levels and as much as 12 rains fell on some parts of the island, according to the National Weather Service in San Juan. More rain was expected through Friday, especially in the south and southwest.
The main challenge ahead is returning power to the more than 1 million customers — nearly 70% of the island — without electricity. Residents also struggled without water in some areas as officials dispatched work crews early Thursday to return the much-needed services.
“It could have been far worse” for Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday. “They really escaped the brunt” of Irma’s wrath.
On Wednesday, travelers hoping to flee the island aboard a JetBlue and American Airlines flight were forced to shelter in San Juan when those flights were turned around in the air, as Hurricane Irma’s outer bands menaced the island. A Delta Airlines flight made it to San Juan around the same time and ferried travelers back to New York in an event widely shared across social media.
Ports on the island remained closed Thursday, and it was unclear when commercial flights would resume. Schools and government offices are scheduled to reopen Monday.
Though largely sparing my isla Puerto Rico, Hurricane Irma cut a devastating path across the northern Caribbean, leaving at least 10 dead and thousands homeless in places like Antigua, Barbuda and St. Martin.
Puerto Rico hadn’t seen a hurricane of Irma’s magnitude since San Felipe in 1928, which killed 2,748 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Florida.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and I plead with you to pray for Puerto Rico as well as the other islands in the Caribbean. God bless us and be with us all.
Editors Note as of 9/8/17 @ 10:36p
The 3 deaths in Puerto Rico were at least loosely linked to Irma. One person died from a fall while being taken to a shelter, another was killed in a car crash; a third died of electrocution, the governor of Puerto Rico said.