Puerto Rico deals with rain and flooding as remnants of Beryl move over the island

Beryl weakens to low pressure system as it moves toward Puerto Rico
Frances Colon/Twitter
People wait in line outside a Costco in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

The remnants of the storm Beryl brought heavy rain and wind to Puerto Rico, creating flash-flood conditions on the island and exacerbating power outage issues that have remained since last year’s devastating hurricane season.

Beryl was downgraded from a tropical storm to a remnant low pressure system on Sunday as it passed over the Lesser Antilles, the National Hurricane Center said.

Though less powerful than before, the storm brought 2 to 4 inches of heavy rain and gusty winds to southeast Puerto Rico on Monday. Flash-flood warnings have expired, but a watch continued through midnight as intermittent showers and storms continued.

The risk from rain and wind was particularly acute for the about 60,000 people with blue tarps on their homes, the aftereffects of Hurricane Maria last September.

Olga Herrera Carrasquillo and Ramon Llanos Arboleda, who live together in Humacao in the southeastern region of Puerto Rico, said FEMA installed a blue tarp over their roof to protect what little they had left.

But that tarp was meant to last 30 to 60 days, not nine or 10 months. If a strong gust of wind blew the tarp off, their home would be exposed to the elements.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said the government has opened 42 shelters for citizens to obtain relief from Beryl at the demand of mayors across the island.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz posted several images of some urban flooding in the capital city.

As of Monday afternoon, there were nearly 13,000 power outages, a total that included customers who remain without service since Hurricane Maria last September, according to Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

The National Weather Service warned islanders that thunderstorms with torrential rainfall and strong gusty winds continued to bombard the eastern half of Puerto Rico.

Though the storm is far from the strength of major Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year, Beryl still posed a threat of wind and rain to areas that have not fully recovered from those destructive storms. Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and caused the deaths of an untold number of people.

The US commonwealth was ordered to turn over to CNN and another news organization a database of information on all deaths that occurred after Maria pummeled the island. An academic report has estimated 4,645 people died due to Maria’s destruction.