Puerto Rico Residents Bracing for Hurricane Dorian Still Have Blue Tarps on Homes From Hurricane Maria

While still vulnerable from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is bracing for another strong storm.

Less than two years after the notorious Hurricane Maria struck the island and ravaged much of its infrastructure, reporters on the ground say Puerto Rico is now vulnerable to the effects of Hurricane Dorian, and that residents are making do with what's available on the island to prepare for the worst.

"They're buying food. They're buying diesel, not only for generators, but for their cars. They're also securing pieces of things that now are serving as roofs. And those who have blue tarps as roofs are seeking shelter," Danica Coto, a Caribbean correspondent for The Associated Press, told PBS Newshour.

The storm will be affecting the central part of Puerto Rico, as well as the southwest region. Heavy rain is also expected along the north coast. According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Dorian is now a Category 1 storm and will continue to strengthen into a major hurricane of Category 3 intensity by the time it reaches the U.S. coastline.

In a press conference on Tuesday evening, Wanda Vazquez, Governor of Puerto Rico, reportedly suggested that the island is better prepared than it was for Category 5 Hurricane Maria in 2017. She detailed that the island has roughly $122 million worth of inventory at its disposal, compared to an approximation of $22 million available during Hurricane Maria.

We are tracking closely tropical storm Dorian as it heads, as usual, to Puerto Rico. FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job. When they do, let them know it, and give them a big Thank You - Not like last time. That includes from the incompetent Mayor of San Juan!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2019

On Tuesday, Vazquez declared a state of emergency, and on Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that officials are "tracking closely" Hurricane Dorian as it heads to Puerto Rico.

"There's still about 30,000 homes that have blue tarps as roofs, and that's nearly two years after Maria," explained Coto. "And officials noted that about 9,000 to 13,000 of those are located in the region where the storm is expected to impact."

Additionally, Coto said, the power grid that was wrecked during Hurricane Maria remains unstable. As a result, she added, "many people worry that" the winds and heavy rains "will lead to power outages."

Streets are practically empty in Vieques, Puerto Rico #TropicalStormDorian pic.twitter.com/yuET32D837

— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) August 28, 2019

On Wednesday morning, the Puerto Rico Innovation and Technology Service published a map of shelters ostensibly to house people who cannot ride out the storm in their own quarters. Newsweek could not reach the organization for comment on how the list was assembled or what these shelters specifically provide.

By Wednesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center had issued hurricane warnings for U.S. and British Virgin Islands, as well as the eastern Puerto Rican Islands Vieques and Culebra. At around 2 p.m. ET, the AP reported that Dorian had struck St. Thomas in the U.S Virgin Islands.

A Hurricane Maria destroyed and abandoned house in the Carola neighborhood on September 19, 2018.
A Hurricane Maria destroyed and abandoned house in the Carola neighborhood on September 19, 2018. Hurricane Maria slammed into the island on September 20 resulting in the death of nearly 3,000 people in the months following the storm according to George Washington University's Milken Institute. US President Donald Trump has disputed those the death toll. Photo by Angel Valentin/Getty Images