Floods in Puerto Rico take out bridges, hundreds homeless
In making the declaration, Gov. Sila Calderon freed $ 5 million from the
territory's emergency fund to help flood victims and farmers who lost coffee,
bananas and other crops.
The American Red Cross estimated that at least 270 homes were damaged in
flooding. "There are places we haven't been able to get to," said Carmen Canino,
executive director of the Red Cross in Puerto Rico.
Visiting a school where 54 people took shelter in the north-coast town
Baja, Calderon urged others in low-lying areas to move to higher ground.
"I want to call on people who live in flood-prone areas, since the rain
stopped, to take the path of prevention and go to the schools open as shelters," the
Evelyn Rosario, 40, had brought her three daughters and her 10-month-old
grandson to the shelter at the Rosa M. Rodriguez Elementary School.
"The house hadn't flooded since (Hurricane) Georges," of 1998, Rosario
time the wat er was rising and it reached my knee."
With rain sweeping the Caribbean island for a third day Friday, more than
evacuees were staying in 11 emergency shelters, authorities said.
Bridges collapsed in the central town of Naranjito and the southern town
Guayama, said Ileana Rivera, head of the U.S. territory's emergency management
At least four bridges collapsed in all, said Jose Encarnacion Izquierdo,
transportation and public works.
The U.S. National Weather Service issued flood warnings for areas throughout
island, and Encarnacion said at least 33 sections of highway were closed due to
No one was reported seriously injured. But on Thursday, a power post felled
wind crashed into a school bus in the San Juan suburb of Bayamon, police said.
Two children suffered minor injuries but did not require hospital treatment.
The rains left at least 173,000 homes without potable water Friday, officials
More than 2,000 homes were without power.
Authorities reported about 120 landslides, and rivers throughout the island
flooding their banks.
The rains have caused an estimated $ 17 million in damage to banana, coffee
other crops, said Ramon Gonzalez Beiro, president of the island's Farmers
Since Wednesday, 18-20 inches (45-50 centimeters) of rain has fallen, officials
said. It was still raining on Friday.
The downpours, caused by the first cold-front of the season over Puerto
were expected to continue through the weekend.
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.