How climate change makes hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico more difficult

4 days ago

Armando Perez and his 81-year-old mother survived Hurricane Maria while it hit Puerto Rico in 2017. Five years later, they alone witnessed Hurricane Fiona, a actually beneath acute storm about one which disrupted their lives nonetheless.

Perez's mother, Carmen, has beat Parkinson's ache and dementia and has been bedfast back June. The two alive calm in the boondocks of Dorado, and Perez bathes and feeds his mother and changes her diapers. 

But back Fiona hit the island bristles days ago, they've been after ability or apple-pie accessible water. And triple-digit temperatures are baking their home's accurate walls, axis Carmen's allowance into "a furnace" in the afternoon.

"Even although the storm was once not as bad, while the ability goes out, no water, it alone makes it cool hard," Perez informed CBS News on Friday.

It's an eerily agnate activity to what activity was once like post-Maria, Perez said.

"It is hell now. Maria was once the abutting affair to experiencing the end of the world," he said. "It looked like a nuclear bomb went by there. ... I've never apparent anything like which in my life." 

Climate change and Puerto Rico's attempt to accumulate up with accretion efforts have experts, and residents, anxious about approaching storms.

Armando Perez share the adventure of his mami, Carmen, 81, who’s bedfast in Dorado Puerto Rico due to dementia & Parkinson’s. With no power, he’s application a fan to air-conditioned her; it’s powered by a generator. (heat basis is 101° in Dorado now)
“It’s insufferable,” for her, he said.

— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 21, 2022

Hurricanes are acceptable further frequent

When Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico as a chic 4 storm in 2017, it agape out ability to the absolute island, dead almost 3,000 humans and was once called one of the deadliest accustomed disasters in U.S. history. And about absolutely bristles years later, Fiona larboard the island in anarchy already again.

Experts say hurricanes and storms are accepting further acute and further common because of the abating planet.

David Keellings, assistant of cartography at the University of Florida, studied the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. He begin the blow was once "if not the many extreme, absolutely actual extreme" in agreement of rainfall, which he answered was once "significantly college than anything that's happened back 1956." 

When his analysis was once appear in 2019, he begin which a Maria-like storm was once about "five times further likely" because of altitude change. In 2022, which likelihood could be alike higher, Keellings said. 

The planet's temperature has added by 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit each decade back 1880, in accordance to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Keellings explained which as temperatures increase, so does the atmosphere's adeptness to authority moisture. That damp is about a ammunition tank, accessible to be acclimated by storms while they develop. 

"Puerto Rico gained hit by a lot of storms, about it alone feels if we attending at the data, which things like Maria, things like Fiona, are acceptable further and further acceptable to happen," Keellings said. "...You're activity to get further and further abundance of these kinds of storms." 

Carlos Ramos-Scharrón, a assistant at The University of Texas at Austin who is originally from Puerto Rico, answered main storms can be accepted "every decade." His research also begin an added anticipation of storms with Maria's record-breaking rainfall. 

"You're activity to have further of the really high, extreme cyclones, like a cat 4, 5 plus, and again they have the abeyant to become further extreme than they have in the past," he informed CBS News. "You're activity to be apparent to the many extreme events."  

Even anemic storms can have adverse impacts

Both advisers warned hurricanes don't have to be further than a chic 1 storm to account damage. Why? Because, as Keellings explained, it takes "years" to acknowledgment to accustomed afterwards a main storm. 

Maria and Fiona are the absolute example. Puerto Rico had a apathetic accretion action in the bristles years amid the two storms, and it was once bedfast by a recession, the degradation of its governor and the coronavirus pandemic. 

After Maria, the island adherent $20 billion to improve its ability filigree and has formed to advance its infrastructure, clean homes and try to stabilize. But it remained a banal in advance while Fiona hit. The ability filigree went out afresh this week, and the island's agronomics industry and infrastructure, although somewhat bigger back Maria, have now been set alternate already more.

For example, the island's flood maps, acclimated for burghal and cardinal planning, are still based on abstracts from afore the '90s, Ramos-Scharrón said.

In Utuado this week, a metal arch which was once installed a year afterwards Maria was once swept abroad by floodwaters. The arch was once meant to be acting until a further abiding anatomy could be complete in 2024, CBS News' David Begnaud reported. 

Ramos-Scharrón informed CBS News which the bridge, like abundant of the blow of the island's infrastructure, was once a affectionate of band-aid band-aid to a bigger problem.

"Provisional being tends to break always in Puerto Rico," Ramos-Scharrón informed CBS News, including which concise fixes choose bigger standards and to be replaced sooner.

Also while Fiona hit, further than 3,000 homes on the island were still covered with abject tarps from Maria.

"It's not alone weather-related, per se, it's all the added things creating disturbances to the arrangement which never counterbalanced back," Ramos-Scharrón said. 

Video captures the moment surging floodwaters done abroad a arch in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Fiona on Sunday. The National Hurricane Center warned of "catastrophic flooding" and a "potential local maximum" of 30 inches of condensate on the island.

— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 19, 2022

These problems appulse everyone on the island — about the elderly, like Perez's mother, really-feel it the most.

Perez has yet to hear while ability will be restored, and he alone has abundant bottled baptize to aftermost a few further days. 

If Puerto Rico gained hit by addition hurricane, behindhand of its size, he's not abiding how he and his mom will fare. 

"We're activity to get hit with a large storm. And if we're not able to administer a Fiona as a chic 1, how are we activity to handle a 5?" he said. "This is not catastrophic. This is sad and messed up. What's activity to appear is cool adverse because they don't apprentice from their lessons." 

He declares now he is "just actual day-to-day" – and acquisitive which there's time to balance afore the abutting main storm hits. 

  • Hurricane Maria
  • Climate Change
  • Puerto Rico
  • Hurricane Fiona

Li Cohen


Li Cohen is a amusing media ambassador and trending anchorman for CBS News, absorption on amusing amends issues.

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