After crippling Puerto Rico and battering the islands in the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria continued on its path through the Atlantic today and threatened to brush North Carolina in the next day or so without making landfall.
Puerto Rico continued to struggle in the wake of the storm as the threat of a major dam breakage loomed and with flash-flooding warnings in the western Quebradillas and eastern Isabela municipalities continuing until 2 p.m. AST today, the National Weather Service said.
“Stay away or be swept away,” the National Weather Service warned in a statement regarding the Guajataca Dam, which is in the northwestern quadrant of the island. "Riverbanks and culverts can become unstable and unsafe. Stay away from evacuated areas until told by emergency officials it is safe to return.”
“Close to 70,000 is the estimate of people that could be affected in the case of a collapse,” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told The New York Times. “We don’t know the details. It’s time to get people out.”
WeatherNation posted video of the area showing water pouring out after a breach occurred.
Rosselló said the island was getting generators, mattresses, food and water from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and from the private sector, according to the newspaper.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is coordinating with federal, commonwealth, territory and local partners as it responds to the effects of Hurricane Maria and focuses on environmental impacts and potential health threats.
Puerto Rico, which has an essentially bankrupt financial system, is facing an uphill battle to recovery.
A total of 3,200 federal workers were on the ground in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands to help with response and recovery, Jenniffer González-Colón, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member of Congress, told The New York Times.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning for most of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, from Cape Lookout to Duck.
A tropical storm watch has been issued from Duck north to the Virginia border and south of Cape Lookout, as well as a potential storm surge from two to four feet.
The storm, which was about 335 miles from North Carolina at 8 a.m., had hurricane-force winds extending outward as much as 70 miles and tropical storm-force winds that extended as far as 230 miles.