PUERTO RICO

Hurricane Irene swells in strength, batters Puerto Rico

 With winds whipping at 100 mph (155 kph) and fierce lashes of rain, emergency officials and weather forecasters are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irene as it howls through the Caribbean towards the US. Yet, as many on the south-eastern coast of the United States debate whether to begin stocking up on bottled water and canned foods, Puerto Rico is reeling from Irene’s wrath.…

Advertising

 

With winds whipping at 100 mph (155 kph) and fierce lashes of rain, emergency officials and weather forecasters are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irene as it howls through the Caribbean towards the US. Yet, as many on the south-eastern coast of the United States debate whether to begin stocking up on bottled water and canned foods, Puerto Rico is already reeling from Irene’s wrath.

 

Irene has been rapidly growing stronger as it churns north-westward across the Atlantic Ocean, and was bumped up to a Category 2 storm late Monday by the National Hurricane Center in the US. Officials say it is the largest storm system to threaten the US since Hurricane Ike ripped through Texas in 2008. Weather forecasters and emergency response organisations have warned that Irene could intensify into a massive Category 4 storm by the time it hits US soil, and have urged households across the south-east to begin emergency preparations.

 

Since the beginning of the week, Irene has battered eastern Puerto Rico, leaving widespread damage and a reported 600,000 people without electricity.

 

Video posted on Youtube by iamjoru.

“Thankfully we still have running water”

Mari Carmen lives in the city of Mayaguez on the western edge of Puerto Rico.

 

I live on the western side of Puerto Rico, so we didn’t get the brunt of the storm. On the eastern part of the island there have been a lot of floods and there’s been a lot of wreckage from fallen trees. They’ve cut off electricity on the eastern part of the island because of fire hazards and there are trees blocking the roads, making it impossible for people to get from one part of the island to another.

 

Flooding caused by Irene. Video posted on Youtube by esmaymi1.

 

Here, there’s been a lot of wind and raid, but not very much damage. The electricity comes and goes a couple of times a day and during the night, but it’s only been for the last two days so it’s nothing too serious. The water pressure is also very low, but thankfully we still have running water.

 

Video posted on Youtube by orbitawcr.

 

It’s probably the worst storm we’ve had since Hurricane Georges [a Category 3 storm with estimated winds of 115 mph, that swept across Puerto Rico in 1998. Damage was reported in all 78 civil divisions of the island in the wake of the storm, which left 700,000 people without water and nearly a million without electricity]".

 

 

Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Rachel Holman.