(Teresa Canino )

Governor Ricardo Rosselló maintained the emergency plan for today - and the suspension of non-essential tasks in the government - despite the fact that the National Hurricane Center (NHC) degraded Beryl to a tropical wave.

Yesterday, when recalling the tragic landslide that caused the death of 93 people in the Mameyes de Ponce area, in 1985, Rossello said that he´d rather take contingency measures, despite the atmospheric phenomenon is no longer a hurricane or storm.

"I have heard others asking why this is being done in the face of the situation in Puerto Rico, and criticizing the decisions. I take responsibility for the decisions I make. I am protecting the welfare of Puerto Ricans and that they are in a safe position," Rosselló said at a press conference yesterday.

"The landslide in Mameyes was caused by a less strong wave than what we are going to have here. The priority is that people are safe and that we go through the atmospheric event in the best possible position," added the governor, who had announced the activation of emergency measures last week.

Beryl stopped was no longer a tropical storm since yesterday afternoon, and according to the 8:00 p.m. bulletin, its sustained winds were at 45 miles per hour.

 The remnants of the storm moved west-northwest at 26 miles per hour and was expected to continue that direction today.

Despite the forecast that Beryl will lose intensity as it approaches the island, Ernesto Morales, emergency coordinator at the National Weather Service (NWS) in San Juan said the projection is still to have between 2 to 4 inches of rain, with the possibility of additional accumulation in isolated areas.

 Faced with this situation, Morales informed that the NWS would activate a 24-hour Flash Flood Warning for the whole island since midnight.

He also noted that the tropical system would arrive with sustained winds of 20 to 25 miles per hour, and gusts of up to 50 miles per hour.

 Given this situation, Rossello reiterated that, for today, government operations will be limited to emergency medical personnel, security, first responders and others convened to work through the emergency plan implemented by the government.

The governor clarified that although police officers may be called to court (as the Judicial Branch will continue operations), they are also asigned to the emergency plan.

 "That is their decision, it is a separate branch. The Executive Branch has taken the decision to protect its citizens and prevent us from having inconvenients. The Legislative Branch has, too" Rossello commented. "They are respected, but I stand by my reasons".

"Police officers, as they are response agents, will be working. Obviously, the priority will be the safety of our people and they will know it," he said.

Rosselló said that there were 24 shelters opened until yesterday afternoon. According to the secretary of the Department of Public Security, Héctor Pesquera, there are over 400 shelters available, but they were waiting for mayors to informe if they would be open. 

Authorities urged citizens living in flood-prone areas and those who still have awnings in their homes after the damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to find a safe places.

 "I would say that any area that was flooded during (Hurricane) Maria" is subject to flooding, Morales warned in an aside with El Nuevo Día, when asked about the areas of greatest concern.

Regarding the power grid, Rosselló reiterated that it is more vulnerable than before Hurricane Maria, so service interruptions are expected, depending on the severity of the winds.

 However, he assured that they are in a better position to respond as they have more staff and resources, in addition to having "the request to bring 500 more people, as well as equipment and tools."

By press time, there were no suspensions reported in the maritime transport system for the islands of Vieques and Culebra, but the government urged citizens to remain alert to the bulletins before the possibility of weather conditions deteriorating.

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