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Flood strikes Puerto Rico

Flooding has affected 200 families in Puerto Rico.

BY HEATHER MOYER | SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico | June 13, 2005

Flooding has affected 200 families in Puerto Rico after a week of heavy rainfall, according to responders.

Flood damage is concentrated in the San Juan area and the western part of the island, according to Church World Service Disaster Response and Recovery Liaison Heriberto Martinez.

“These were really big floods and most families had a lot of damage,” said Martinez.  “There was three to four feet of water inside some of these homes.”

Saturday was the worst day, with as many as three inches of rain falling in some areas.  Martinez said cities like San Juan, Carolina, Loiza, Rio Grande and Manati all saw flooding. High water swept away numerous cars as it flowed through city streets.

Many of the affected areas are frequently subjected to floods, a fact of life that Martinez said is hard to change. “We’ve tried to move people from these areas, but there’s really nowhere else to put them – this is a very small island.”

He added that the income levels in the affected areas vary, but he knows that numerous undocumented migrant workers saw damage in their homes.

While the public waits on whether Puerto Rico will seek out a federal disaster declaration, Martinez says churches and other recovery organizations will help the families in the meantime. Many families are living in water-logged homes because they have nowhere else to go, he said.

The forecast for the week ahead does not look helpful. Heavy rains are predicted for most of Monday and Monday night, and afternoon thunderstorms are expected for the remainder of the week.

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