Puerto Rico to close schools as TS Karen threatens flooding

Puerto Rico’s governor announced Monday that she was cancelling classes and closing public agencies as Tropical Storm Karen approaches the US territory and threatens to unleash heavy flooding in the island’s eastern region.

Gov Wanda Vázquez activated the National Guard and urged people in flood-prone areas to seek shelter.

At 2:00 pm EDT, Karen was located 155 miles (250 kilometres) south of St Croix and moving north-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph).

Roberto Garcia, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service’s San Juan office, said between two to four inches (5-10 centimetres) of rain is expected with up to eight inches (20 centimetres) in isolated areas. He added that some towns in the eastern part of Puerto Rico will likely be hit with moderate to serious flooding, especially those next to mountains.

“They will be greatly affected,” he said.

The island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, which hit as a Category 4 storm two years ago and is estimated to have caused more than US$100 billion in damage. More than 25,000 homes still have a blue tarp for a roof and the electric grid remains unstable.

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