Dam failure ‘imminent’ in northwest Puerto Rico, evacuations underway

PUBLISHED Fri, September 22, 2017 - 2:42pm EDT

A dam on Guajataca Lake in northwest Puerto Rico is at risk of imminent failure, which could result in life-threatening flash flooding on the Rio Guajataca river, officials say. An evacuation has been ordered for the communities of Isabela and Quebradillas.

Dam operators reported at 4:10 p.m. ET on Friday that a failure of the Guajataca Dam was "imminent," according to the National Weather Service. A failure would result in flash flooding that would move downstream on the Rio Guajataca river.

"This is a FLASH FLOOD EMERGENCY for ISABELLA, QUEBRADILLAS and SURROUNDING AREAS. SEEK HIGHER GROUND NOW!", the agency said in a warning. "This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation."

The agency added: "Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life. Authorities have ordered an evacuation of Isabella and Quebradillas. Buses are evacuating people from these areas. Please heed instructions from authorities."

Earlier in the afternoon, the National Weather Service had issued a warning which said the dam was "failing" and suggested that flash flooding was already occurring. The agency issued an update at 4:21 p.m. which said the dam had not yet failed, but continued to urge residents to evacuate immediately.

There was no immediate word from the ground to confirm the severity of the situation, but Puerto Rico has been hit hard by Hurricane Maria, which made landfall on Wednesday afternoon. The storm caused major damage, an island-wide power failure, and killed at least 13 people.

Guajataca Lake was constructed in 1929 to provide a public water and irrigation water supply. Quebradillas, which is home to about 26,000 people, is located roughly 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of the lake, while Isabela - which is home to 45,000 people - is located 9.5 miles (15 kilometers) to the northwest.

  Puerto Rico     





Happening Now

U.S. FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules

WATCH LIVE:  FCC expected to vote on repealing its net neutrality rules

Democrat Doug Jones wins U.S. Senate election in Alabama

Strong earthquake hits near Kerman in southeast Iran

Suspect in New York subway bombing acted on behalf of ISIS


Listen to "BNO News - Breaking News Radio" on Spreaker.


Just want the important news? Sign up now for the fastest email alerts from BNO News. Click here to get started!


U.S. FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules

Democrat Doug Jones wins U.S. Senate election in Alabama

Strong earthquake hits near Kerman in southeast Iran

Small plane crash into home in San Diego, at least 2 injured

Massive fire erupts in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood


Large explosion in China’s port city of Ningbo kills at least 2

Mount Agung erupts on Indonesia’s Bali island, some flights canceled

Woman in Italy rescued after being held captive for 10 years

False alarm causes mass panic on London’s Oxford Street

Militants attack mosque in Egypt’s Sinai, killing at least 235