Puerto Ricans Face Punishing Drought Amid Economic Slump

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — Puerto Ricans are learning to live without water on an island that already was suffering an economic crisis.

 A severe drought is forcing businesses to temporarily close, public schools to cancel breakfast service and people to find creative ways to stay clean amid sweltering temperatures.
Rationing rules that had meant water coming through the pipes only one day out of three will increase the cutoff to one day out of four starting next week, government officials say.
“I’ve grown fearful of the weather report,” said Cornelio Vegazo, owner of a roof-repair company. “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”
The drought is one of the worst in the U.S. territory’s history. July was the fourth driest month in the capital of San Juan since 1898, the year Puerto Rico became a possession of the United States. Only 1.60 inches (4 centimeters) of rain fell last month, and forecasters predict several more weeks and possibly months of dry conditions.
Nearly 13 percent of Puerto Rico is in extreme drought and an additional 38 percent is in a severe one, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, which says 2.5 million people are affected.

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