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CIAPR discusses key elements of hurricane destruction

Hurricane Georges reached Category 3 strength when it slammed the island on Sept. 22 1998. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

The College of Engineers and Surveyors of Puerto Rico (CIAPR by its initials in Spanish) shared Monday a list of the most significant damage caused by hurricanes, and safety tips when facing the wrath of a storm and its aftermath.

CIAPR President Pablo Vázquez-Ruiz mentioned the following scenarios:

Winds: Damage potential is directly related to wind speed or intensity on a scale known as the Saffir-Simpson scale, developed precisely by an engineer and a meteorologist. This scale is divided into five categories.

“To protect our home or business it is imperative to cover any opening through which the wind can enter. Install storm tents on windows and exposed doors. Garage doors should have appropriate reinforcements,” he said.

Keeping windows and doors completely closed is essential during the hurricane. This measure protects not only from damage by the wind but from objects lifted and propelled by it that become projectiles.

Rain: The result of rains is the development of extraordinary floods in the coastal areas and valleys of the interior of the island. The effect of constant rainfall for a prolonged period associated with a slow pace of the phenomenon could also cause landslides. Both effects are difficult to control, so it is best to stay in a safe place until the hurricane and rains.

Floods: The greatest tragedies experienced on our island have been caused by floods. The mountainous nature of our island makes it prone to sudden floods with little warning to susceptible communities. There are also local or urban floods caused by drainage deficiencies, sewer obstructions due to sediment or debris, and by the accumulation of water in low areas.

Landslides: They occur on the slopes of the mountains due to the accumulation of water or saturation of the terrain by heavy rains. In many cases this natural process is aggravated by human activities such as highways and roads, sewage works, septic tanks, deforestation, urban and industrial developments and agricultural activities without the proper use of soil conservation practices.

Cyclonic Tide: Is an increase in sea level and has impact on the coast due to the decrease in atmospheric pressure associated with the passage of the eye of the hurricane and strong winds.

As soon as the hurricane enters a coastal area, the water level increases significantly and can reach 12 feet in height. Strong winds can cause this effect to be reflected on the coast at levels exceeding 18 feet.

This phenomenon has the potential to cause great destruction in low-lying and densely populated coastal areas. People must be alert to the alerts issued by the agencies to determine if he should evacuate his residence and be placed in shelters, he said.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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