UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Residents of Puerto Rico were preparing Wednesday for the arrival of tropical storm Dorian, which meteorologists expect to hit the island devastated by Hurricane Maria two years ago.
US meteorologists had expected the storm to hit densely populated east of Puerto Rico, with a force nearing a hurricane later on Wednesday. Authorities issued a hurricane warning in the US Virgin Islands.
Durian’s final trajectory puts it on Florida’s Atlantic coastline by the end of the week, with few obstacles that could weaken it after Puerto Rico.
US President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, an American territory, allowing federal aid to be paid to local authorities despite a Twitter complaint about their efforts to tackle Hurricane Maria.
“We are keeping a close eye on tropical storm Dorian as she heads to Puerto Rico,” Trump tweeted. “The FEMA and the others are ready and will do a great job.”
“When they do that, they tell them, and thank them very much, not like before. This includes the incompetent mayor of San Juan.”
Typhoon Maria, a Category 4, devastated the already fragile power grid, paralyzed public services and displaced many people.
A government-approved survey, which initially said 64 people died, said about 3,000 people had died in the hurricane and the ensuing unrest.
Durian, although much less powerful than Hurricane Maria, will be the first major test of the island’s recovery efforts.
At 12:00 GMT, the storm was about 95 kilometers southeast of St. Croix with winds of 95 kilometers as it made its way to the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
It is expected to cause 100 to 150 mm of precipitation on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Meteorologists say the storm’s current route is east of Puerto Rico, near the capital San Juan, and will eventually reach the east coast of Florida.
– Items are ready to respond –
According to its course, the storm will cross the Atlantic Ocean north of the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Archipelago, before turning west toward Florida by the end of the week or Monday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said 3,000 of its personnel had been deployed and were “ready to respond.”
“Emergency communications, logistics teams and transport teams are also stationed on the island,” the agency tweeted.
After nearly a year of controversy, Puerto Rico’s health services said the official death toll from Hurricane Maria was 2,975, compared with the government-approved 64 dead.
The new governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vazquez, declared a state of emergency and said the island was better prepared this time to respond to any developments.
“The response of the government and the agencies will be different because they are on standby,” she told a news conference.
Former governor Ricardo Rossio was forced to resign last month over his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
A hurricane warning was issued in the Dominican Republic. In Santo Domingo, residents of neighborhoods adjacent to the Ozama River, which crosses the capital, prepared to evacuate their homes in case of flooding.
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