natural calamities

Puerto Rico: Dam develops crack after Hurricane Maria, prompts mass evacuation

Many parts of the US territory are already inundated, and more than 3 million people do not have electricity.

Nearly 70,000 people from western Puerto Rico were being evacuated after a 90-year-old dam was damaged by Hurricane Maria, The Guardian reported. Many parts of Puerto Rico are flooded and more than 3 million people do not have electricity.

A crack appeared on the Guajataca dam on Friday, leading to risks of flash floods. Residents of the municipalities of Isabela and Quebradillas have been told to evacuate. “It’s a structural failure. I don’t have any more details,” Governor Ricardo Rosselló said from the United States territory’s capital, San Juan. “We’re trying to evacuate as many people as possible.”

The National Weather Service in San Juan also said that people living in the areas surrounding the Guajataca river should be evacuated immediately as their lives were in danger. It instructed residents to move to higher ground immediately. “Preliminary results indicate that a full breach would result in large peak flows that would reach the coast in under 12 hours,” the weather service alert said.

Anthony Reynes, a meteorologist with the US National Weather Service, was quoted as saying that there was no indication about how this crack could evolve, or how long it would take. “That is why the authorities are moving so fast...It is a really, really dire situation.”

Hurricane Maria was the second major storm to hit Puerto Rico in about a month. Its Governor Ricardo Rosselló had said Maria was the “most devastating storm to hit the island this century, if not in modern history”. Before that, the island had not seen a Category 5 storm since San Felipe II in 1928, which killed more than 300 people.

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Advice from an ex-robber on how to keep your home safe

Tips on a more hands-on approach of keeping your house secure.

Home, a space that is entirely ours, holds together our entire world. Where our children grow-up, parents grow old and we collect a lifetime of memories, home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. So, what do you do when your home is eyed by miscreants who prowl the neighbourhood night and day, plotting to break in? Here are a few pre-emptive measures you can take to make your home safe from burglars:

1. Get inside the mind of a burglar

Before I break the lock of a home, first I bolt the doors of the neighbouring homes. So that, even if someone hears some noise, they can’t come to help.

— Som Pashar, committed nearly 100 robberies.

Burglars study the neighbourhood to keep a check on the ins and outs of residents and target homes that can be easily accessed. Understanding how the mind of a burglar works might give insights that can be used to ward off such danger. For instance, burglars judge a house by its front doors. A house with a sturdy door, secured by an alarm system or an intimidating lock, doesn’t end up on the burglar’s target list. Upgrade the locks on your doors to the latest technology to leave a strong impression.

Here are the videos of 3 reformed robbers talking about their modus operandi and what discouraged them from robbing a house, to give you some ideas on reinforcing your home.

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2. Survey your house from inside out to scout out weaknesses

Whether it’s a dodgy back door, a misaligned window in your parent’s room or the easily accessible balcony of your kid’s room, identify signs of weakness in your home and fix them. Any sign of neglect can give burglars the idea that the house can be easily robbed because of lax internal security.

3. Think like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

You don’t need to plant intricate booby traps like the ones in the Home Alone movies, but try to stay one step ahead of thieves. Keep your car keys on your bed-stand in the night so that you can activate the car alarm in case of unwanted visitors. When out on a vacation, convince the burglars that the house is not empty by using smart light bulbs that can be remotely controlled and switched on at night. Make sure that your newspapers don’t pile up in front of the main-door (a clear indication that the house is empty).

4. Protect your home from the outside

Collaborate with your neighbours to increase the lighting around your house and on the street – a well-lit neighbourhood makes it difficult for burglars to get-away, deterring them from targeting the area. Make sure that the police verification of your hired help is done and that he/she is trustworthy.

While many of us take home security for granted, it’s important to be proactive to eliminate even the slight chance of a robbery. As the above videos show, robbers come up with ingenious ways to break in to homes. So, take their advice and invest in a good set of locks to protect your doors. Godrej Locks offer a range of innovative locks that are un-pickable and un-duplicable. To secure your house, see here.

The article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Godrej Locks and not by the Scroll editorial team.