Power outages were reported across Puerto Rico following the passage of Tropical Storm Laura on Saturday, August 22. At least 200,000 customers were rendered without power, and over 10,000 lost access to water supply after Laura brought wind gusts of up to 108kph (67mph). At least two people were rescued in Ciales due to rising water levels on the Toro Negro river. Up to 152mm (6in) of rainfall was reported in some areas leading to landslides that closed at least one road. The Governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez, declared a state of emergency and called on residents to remain indoors.
Tropical Storm Laura moved away from Puerto Rico on late Saturday as it moves westwards towards southern Hispaniola and Cuba. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned that potentially moderate river flooding remains possible in Puerto Rico.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from late May through to the end of November, with activity typically peaking in late August and early September. Numerous tropical storms form in the Atlantic Ocean during this period, with most affecting the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the east coast of the United States. Although communities in the region are generally well prepared for adverse weather conditions during the hurricane season, severe storms bring a significant risk of flooding and infrastructural damage.
Given Puerto Rico's location within the Caribbean hurricane belt, there is generally some level of tropical storm activity every year from June through November. However, this does not necessarily imply full hurricanes, but rather a range of activity from disorganised tropical bands to high-intensity hurricanes. The territory's relatively high level of development and the ability to leverage US federal assistance generally means that it is able to mount recovery and reconstruction efforts better than other island nations in the region.
Those in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, anticipate transportation disruptions, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, including evacuation orders. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.
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