The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, today declared the state of emergency and activated the National Guard after the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) declared a hurricane watch for the island before the passage Irma tropical system.
Rosselló led a press conference of agency heads in which he announced that the classes are immediately suspended and that public employees will end their workday at noon tomorrow, since the impact of Irma already in Puerto Rico is expected on Wednesday .
Rossellló, who insisted the population of the danger posed by the system, explained that the decision was made after the NHC’s determination, which today issued a hurricane watch for Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the British.
The eye of hurricane Irma, category 3, is situated according to the latter part of the NHC at latitude 16.8 degrees north long 53.3 degrees west and moves southwest at 22 mph (14 miles per hour) .
Hurricane-force winds extend up to 45 kilometers (30 miles) from the center and winds with tropical storm force extend to 220 kilometers (140 miles).
There is also constant vigilance for the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, as well as for the islands of Saba, Saint Eustatius and Saint Martin.
The cyclone is 980 kilometers (610 miles) east of the Leeward Islands (Lesser Antilles) with current southwest movement at 22 mph (14 miles per hour) and, according to the forecast, would be on Tuesday that archipelago, according to the report of the CNH.
Rosselló also said that tomorrow he will issue an order for preventive evictions throughout the island to address the situation of people living in flood areas or housing with fragile structures.
“We work with the municipalities and we will provide the information,” said the governor, after emphasizing that it is fundamental the citizen collaboration and that are in games human lives.
“The government is ready, but we also ask people to be prepared,” said the chief executive, for whom success lies in prevention, so he insisted that if the authorities require it no one should oppose the evictions .
For its part, Housing Department Secretary Fernando Gil said that there are 456 shelters available with a capacity to house 62,100 people.
Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez reported that the emergency plan was activated at the Medical Center (main hospital of the island), while indicating that the institution is prepared in supplies and equipment.
The prevention plan includes the distribution of water in vehicles of the Authority of Aqueducts and Sewers (AAA) as an “oasis”.
The governor said that the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP) has carried out work for days of cleaning sewage and drainage to better cope with the consequences of the hurricane and that the level of the reservoirs will be closely monitored by itself the gates would have to be opened.
He said aid from the US is secured thanks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The director of FEMA’s Caribbean division, Alejandro De La Campa, said that the federal agency already has half a million liters of bottled water and 300,000 food rations available in Puerto Rico, as well as enough power generators to cope with any emergency.
De la Campa indicated that there is a team of 400 people from that agency in Puerto Rico, which includes emergency specialists and another doctor, in addition to the support of the US Army.
He said that there is a boat with dozens of helicopters at the Naval Base of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which, if necessary, will be transferred to Puerto Rico on Thursday.