Puerto Rico declares state of emergency on coastal erosion
By DÁNICA COTO.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor declared a state of emergency on Tuesday to fight worsening coastal erosion across the U.S. territory that officials blame on climate change.
The government is setting aside $105 million in federal funds to implement nearly two dozen measures to offset the ongoing loss of land and minimize its effects. The measures include relocating homes, creating artificial reefs, planting mangrove trees and adding sand to beaches.
“This is an ambitious agenda,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said at a press conference.
Puerto Rico has nearly 700 miles (1,200 kilometers) of coastline, and two-thirds of the island’s 3.2 million resident live along coastal areas. Of that population, more than 20% live in areas at high risk for flooding.
A study by the University of Puerto Rico found that more than 60 miles (99 kilometers) of shoreline have migrated inland in previous years. Much of the erosion is blamed on storms including Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that slammed into the island in September 2017, with experts warning that future storms will be more powerful and occur more often.