Scientists in oceanography warn that future episodes and rising sea levels will wreak havoc on infrastructure, so they warned that measures must be taken
Nearly six months after Hurricane Maria, the coasts of Puerto Rico were not prepared to receive a swell with waves that surpassed the records registered so far, which caused floods, damages, evictions and rescue missions in different parts of the island.
Doctor in oceanic engineering Miguel Canals indicated that the coasts did not have the adequate protection to face the phenomenon, caused by a storm in the northwest of the Atlantic Ocean.
“We arrived with the coasts destroyed and the infrastructure in poor condition … The problem is that we were vulnerable and we are seeing the effects,” said Canals, who is a professor at the Mayagüez University Campus of the University of Puerto Rico.
“That’s why we see that it has caused more damage than María (on the coasts), because the waves managed to enter more,” he added.
The scientist indicated that “seeing this, there is no doubt that we must rethink the public policy of the country to protect the coasts and be sure of sustainable development.”
For his part, the doctor in physical oceanography Aurelio Mercado recognized the courage that caused him to see the images circulating in various media about the damage to structures built near the sea.
“When I see this, I feel unworthy because we have been struggling with this for decades, so that construction on the coast is prevented and measures taken, but the agencies do nothing and people are seeing the consequences,” lamented Mercado.
“This will continue to happen, the sea level will continue to rise, the beaches shrinking … The recommendation will eventually be to start evicting. The fight against the ocean is throwing money, “he added. “To put walls or breakwaters, is to delay death. Sooner or later we will have to move. ”
In fact, the mayor of Loíza, Julia Nazario, said that some families approached her yesterday with the interest of being relocated due to coastal flooding in the area. Nazario said he would make arrangements through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as it is an area affected by storms.
Loíza was one of the municipalities most affected by the storm surge. On Sunday afternoon they evicted more than 80 people and yesterday they had to rescue two women whose homes were suddenly flooded in Torrecilla.
“The Piñones area is the most critical,” said Nazario. “The street and kiosks were covered with sand, and even cars that could get without permission,” he added.
The swell also caused serious damage in Isabela. Mayor Carlos “Charlie” Delgado explained that the strong waves affected Villa Pesquera, flooded houses in the Bajura neighborhood and eroded the PR-466 highway.
In Old San Juan, the force of the waves destroyed some of the small walls of the Paseo de la Princesa, which is under the jurisdiction of the Tourism Company.
“It is up to us to do the evaluations of the place with structural engineers,” said the interim director of Tourism, Carla Campos, who anticipated that “they are millionaire investments that we are going to have to do”.
The damages caused by the swell in Cataño were also estimated as “millionaires”. The mayor, Felix Delgado, said that he finished collapsing part of the floor of the seafront.
“By María, it had been estimated $ 2 million in damages, but had not eroded part of the floor as it happened now. Part of the fence in cement (broke), that was not and we need to rebuild it, because that is the economic engine of Cataño, “he said.
The onslaught of the waves in Cataño also affected hundreds of homes in the La Puntilla sector. One of the flooded houses was that of Ramón Rivera, who lost his fridge and room set.
“I am born and raised here and it is the first time that it has made such a swell,” said Rivera.
According to the National Meteorology Service (SNM) in San Juan, Rivera is right.
The meteorologist Carlos Anselmy reported that this event generated waves of 20 feet high, with intervals of 16 seconds, surpassing the record of waves of 17 feet with intervals of 17 seconds that were recorded in 2008, as recorded by the buoy located at 170 miles north of the island. Meanwhile, the breaking waves were between 24 and 30 feet high.
Because the warning of coastal flooding and strong hangovers continues to this day, the interim commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Management, Carlos Acevedo, indicated that they will maintain the active safety plan, including the closure of some streets in the peak hours.
Instead, all schools are expected to open today, the Education Department reported.
Source: El Nuevo Dia