Governor Rosselló declares state of emergency due to Hurricane Irma watch
(September 4, 2017 – Caguas) Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard after the National Hurricane Center declared a hurricane watch for Puerto Rico due to the passage of the tropical system Irma.
A hurricane watch means that conditions in this category are expected in the area within 36 to 48 hours.
The governor announced that the government will operate Tuesday morning until noon to ensure that employees carry out public property protection plans.
Rosselló notified that classes will not be offered on Tuesday in the public education system nor in the University of Puerto Rico.
In addition, he reported that yesterday the Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO, per its Spanish acronym) secretary, Michael Pierluisi, issued a price freeze order on basic necessities covering canned and fresh foods, medicines, window coverings, certain building materials, power generators, water tanks, batteries, flashlights, water, ice, among others.
On August 25, DACO issued an order to freeze profit margins on gasoline, liquefied gas, and diesel, which was extended until September 15.
Likewise, the DACO secretary submitted an information request to the wholesalers to evaluate compliance with the gasoline price freeze. This information will also be requested from the retailers. He added that DACO staff will be reviewing compliance with these orders.
Meanwhile, the Housing secretary, Fernando Gil, reiterated that there are 456 shelters available with a capacity to accommodate 62,100 people. Shelters will have an area designated for pets. Pets brought into shelters must be in their cages and the owners must provide their food.
Health secretary Rafael Rodríguez reported that the emergency plan has been activated at Centro Médico, while indicating that the institution is prepared with supplies and equipment. At the same time, the number of beds is being monitored at the 69 hospitals of the Island.
Likewise, it was indicated that the renal services facilities activated their contingency plans and are administering dialysis in advance to renal patients. Similarly, the Puerto Rico Administration of Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services (ASSMCA, per its Spanish acronym) will disclose its plan to distribute methadone services in advance.
It was also reported that today a pregnant woman will be transferred from Vieques to the main island of Puerto Rico and the same has been done from Culebra with another pregnant woman.
The governor informed that starting tomorrow the ferry services to Vieques and Culebra will be canceled, until the conditions at sea allow it to resume.
The schedule for today's trips will be from Fajardo to Vieques at 1:00 p.m. and from Vieques to Fajardo at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Meanwhile, the trip from Culebra to Fajardo will be at 1:00 p.m.
The secretary of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA, per its Spanish acronym), Tania Vázquez, activated the flood control plan in the 14 pumping stations and reported that there are teams working in the Cerrillos Dam, the Portuguese Dam, and the Baldorioty Pumping Station.
Also, canals and streams in Toa Baja, Cataño, Naguabo and Adjuntas are being cleaned as requested by the municipalities.
In addition, it was reported that work is being done on eviction plans for today in Isla de Mona and Caja de Muertos.
Vázquez also informed that the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (JCA, per its Spanish acronym) is evaluating the situation in relation to AES and will be making a decision today to ensure that they comply with the law and take preventive measures.
The decision could include fines of $25,000 a day and an immediate compliance order to comply with ash management measures.
The executive director of the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority (PRASA), Elí Díaz, announced that as part of their plan, the 1,390 emergency generators are being re-inspected, while diesel is being supplied and the equipment is being monitored in the facilities of the public corporation. In addition, it was reported that 24 emergency generators were requested from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).
In addition, it was reported that the levels in the Carraízo and La Plata reservoirs are being monitored to determine if they need to be pre-emptively discharged 48 hours prior to the event.
It was also informed that there are 200 oasis trucks available with 6,000 gallons of water.
FEMA Caribbean Area Division Director, Alejandro De La Campa, reported that they have over 500 officials on the island, a medical emergency team, and a rescue search team will arrive in Puerto Rico for support. In addition, he recommended citizens to download the FEMA application onto their smart phones.
Governor Rosselló said that "despite the economic challenges Puerto Rico is facing, the approved budget has $15 million for the emergency fund."
With this, the fund has a balance of close to $35 million. These funds were previously fed by credit lines but during the previous administration the access to this credit was lost due to degrading.