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Government calls on citizens to cooperate and take refuge in a safe place

Large amounts of rain, floods, landslides and tropical storm winds throughout the Island are the main concerns of the government and the National Meteorological Service (SNM) due to the close passage of Tropical Storm Fiona through Puerto Rico.

The SNM warning coordinator, meteorologist Ernesto Morales, specified that the tropical storm winds would begin to reach the island on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. He said that it will be between Sunday morning and during that day that the greater proximity of the system to the Island, therefore, the strongest winds and the most intense rain.

The warning coordinator of the National Meteorological Service, Ernesto Morales, reported that it will be between Sunday morning and during that day that the closest approach of tropical storm Fiona is expected in Puerto Rico. (David Villafane Ramos)

He explained that Fiona is expected to pass, at its closest point to the Island, between “five to seven miles southwest of Cabo Rojo” by Sunday morning. Although, she did make the caveat that her trajectory might change in the next few hours.

This closeness of the system prompted me to call on all people who have fragile housing structures or who have doubts about whether they would withstand winds of Fiona’s potential to move to a safe place.

Morales also predicted that for Monday there is expected to be a “slight improvement” and for Tuesday “a significant improvement” in weather conditions.

Given the imminent impact of the storm, the government will activate the Emergency Operations Center (COE) at 8:00 am tomorrow, Saturday, reported the Secretary of the Interior, Noelia García.

The Secretary of the Interior, Noelia García, announced that Governor Pedro Pierluisi will hold a press conference at the Emergency Management Bureau tomorrow, Saturday, at 10:00 a.m.
The Secretary of the Interior, Noelia García, announced that Governor Pedro Pierluisi will hold a press conference at the Emergency Management Bureau tomorrow, Saturday, at 10:00 a.m. (David Villafane Ramos)

He indicated that at 9:00 am Governor Pedro Pierluisi will hold a meeting with all agency heads and at 10:00 am he will hold a press conference to provide the final details of the preparations.

García, however, listed all the efforts that the government has made in preparation for this atmospheric event. However, the main call was for citizens to cooperate by not exposing themselves to danger or moving to a safe place.

“What are we waiting for? That the community can support, that it does not wait for the last thing to move to a safe place, “said the Commissioner of Emergency Management, Nino Correa.

The Emergency Management Commissioner, Nino Correa, asked citizens not to lower their guard, even if it is a storm and not a hurricane, much less the magnitude of Hurricane Maria.
The Emergency Management Commissioner, Nino Correa, asked citizens not to lower their guard, even if it is a storm and not a hurricane, much less the magnitude of Hurricane Maria. (David Villafane Ramos)

“We need you, in your home, in your house, with your people, not to expose yourself to that potential danger,” added Correa, who has established that the citizenry’s preparations should be finished by noon tomorrow.

The official asked citizens not to lower their guard, even if it is a storm and not a hurricane, much less the magnitude of Hurricane Maria.

On the other hand, García broke down the actions of the government. He included that the Fiscal Supervision Board was requested to allow the use of the Emergency Reserve, a pot that has $550 million. The request has already been accepted.

Likewise, he explained that the Carraízo and La Plata dams have had preventive discharges, while 99% of the clients of the Aqueduct and Sewerage Authority have service.

García commented that LUMA Energy, in charge of the transmission and distribution of electrical energy, has 1,395 workers to work with the emergency and they have activated resources from their parent companies to work on a possible recovery. He commented that they have also activated external contractors, given the imminence that the electrical service fails.

However, the number of customers who have service prior to approaching the system was not reported, nor was it specified how the response will be. No LUMA representative showed up at the press conference.

The Secretary of the Interior alluded that in the presentation that the first executive will have tomorrow there would be representation of the company.

On the other hand, it was reported that the ports will be closed throughout the island at 10:00 pm this Friday, so no vessel is authorized to be on the high seas after this time.

The Department of Public Safety, meanwhile, activated all first responders. This includes police officers, firefighters, and EMTs, among others.

Meanwhile, the Department of Consumer Affairs activated yesterday, Thursday, the price freeze for essential items in an emergency.

The Department of the Family advanced the departure of the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN) to 239,672 families and has 1.6 million pounds of food stored in case it is necessary to distribute it in the community.

The agency also activated its family support line, 787-977-8022.

All hospitals in Puerto Rico have reinforced their alternate energy systems, according to Correa.

For its part, the Puerto Rico Medical Center, where the main hospital institutions in the country are located, activated its emergency plans.

No shelter has been opened, so far. However, the government has some 365 shelters ready, which can accommodate up to 75,000 people.

The vessels that transit to the island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra have already ceased operations until further notice. Air Flamenco and Vieques Airlink flights to these little islands were also canceled.

However, the services of the Urban Train and the buses of the Metropolitan Bus Authority continue to operate.

García stressed that the Driver Service Centers (CESCO) will not operate tomorrow. Appointments would be rescheduled.

Likewise, the Department of Correction canceled visits, inmate passes and all activities.

The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) did the same by closing reserves, resorts, beaches and the centers that operate. It was reported that the animals of the Mayagüez Zoo and the Puerto Rican parrots that are under its control were sheltered, as well as that all the pumping systems under its control are in operation.

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