Tropical Storm Dorian is on track to slam the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico — an island still grappling with the devastation of Hurricane Maria. US President Donald Trump has already declared a state of emergency, with the national guard already in place.
Dorian is considered a very compact storm, with tropical-storm-force winds, ranging from 39 mph to 73 mph, extending only 45 miles from the center. Dorian is expected to dump up to 10 inches of rain over the Windward Islands and up to 8 inches in Barbados and Dominica.
But it could also become a hurricane, according to meteorologists. Dorian is forecast to intensify into a hurricane after it passes the Windward Islands and moves into the Caribbean Sea. Dorian is the fourth named storm of this hurricane season, which is now on its peak.
Puerto Ricans are scrambling to stock up on supplies before Dorian approaches Wednesday evening. Rescue teams are also preparing for the storm. A team of over 200 people from nearly 30 different fire departments in South Florida were preparing for deployment to the Caribbean and Puerto Rico.
“We ask our citizens to stay calm, not speculate on the possibilities, stay informed from official news sources, take necessary precautions and to know that the PRNG is vigilant and ready to assist them if necessary,” said Maj. Gen. Jose J. Reyes from Puerto Rico National Guard.
Puerto Rico has struggled to recover from the back-to-back 2017 hurricanes that killed about 3,000 people just months after the territory filed for bankruptcy to restructure $120 billion of debt and pension obligations.
“Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end?” Trump wrote on Twitter. Trump, who has been criticized for his administration’s response to the 2017 storms, has accused the island’s leaders of squandering billions in disaster relief aid.
Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez declared a state of emergency late on Monday. She said there would be about 360 shelters open across the island.
“I want everyone to feel calm,” she said. “Agency directors have prepared for the last two years. The experience of Maria has been a great lesson for everyone.”
“We are better prepared than when Hurricane Maria attacked our island,” she told a news conference.