Hurricane Fiona makes landfall in the Dominican Republic as more than a million people in Puerto Rico remain without power

Hurricane Fiona makes landfall in the Dominican Republic as more than a million people in Puerto Rico remain without power

Hurricane Fiona makes landfall in the Dominican Republic as more than a million people in Puerto Rico remain without power

The Category 1 storm made landfall near Boca de Yuma at 3:30 a.m. with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

As the storm slowly moves northwest, torrential rains continue to fall on Puerto Rico, where more than 1.4 million people are without power.

So far, at least one death has been reported in the heavily damaged city of Basse-Terre, capital of the French territory of Guadeloupe, the vice president of the territory’s environmental agency said Sunday.
The hurricane made landfall on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, bearing down on the island with strong winds of up to 75 miles per hour and bring 6 to 24 inches of rain to some areas by the end of the day, according to the National Weather Service.

Fiona will continue to batter Puerto Rico and eastern parts of the Dominican Republic into Monday. Eastern areas of the Dominican Republic could also see flooding, as well as mudslides and landslides in higher elevations, according to the hurricane center. Fiona could bring rainfall totals of up to 30 inches to Puerto Rico and up to 12 inches to the eastern and northern Dominican Republic.

Fiona's forecast track over the Atlantic.
The hurricane is forecast to build strength as it passes over the Dominican Republic and is expected to move toward Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas on Monday and Tuesday, according to National Hurricane Center. The Turks and Caicos Islands are under a hurricane warning and the southern Bahamas are under a tropical storm watch.

LUMA Energy, the main power utility in Puerto Rico, said in a statement Sunday that it could be days before power is restored, adding that “multiple outages” are contributing to the outage. The process will be done “gradually,” Governor Pedro Pierluisi said in a Facebook post.

The website PowerOutage.us reported that the entire island was without power early Monday morning, adding that LUMA had “reactivated some circuits, but there is limited information and no numbers on how many customers have been restored.”
Power outages have become a familiar crisis for many living in Puerto Rico. Just five months ago, the inhabitants experienced another island-wide blackout after a fire broke out in a power plant.
Some parts of the island still bear the scars of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico almost exactly five years ago. After Hurricane Maria caused catastrophic damage to the territory’s infrastructure, it took nearly a year for power to be restored across the island.

Samuel Rivera and his mother Lourdes Rodriguez lived without power for about a year after Maria hit, Rivera told CNN’s Layla Santiago. On Sunday morning, they lost power once again, conjuring similar fears as they had five years ago.

They said they are also concerned that a nearby river could overflow and the trees around their home could be felled by the strong winds.

Life-threatening floods tear through Puerto Rico

When Hurricane Fiona made landfall on Sunday, most of Puerto Rico was under a flood warning in anticipation of the overwhelming rain. The National Weather Service in San Juan warned of “catastrophic” and life-threatening flood conditions.

A video of the dangerous flood shows the rushing water easily wiping away a bridge, which carries the structure downstream. Another shot by Samuel De Jesús depicts a scene in the city of Arecibo as the rain falls in sheets, adding the fast-moving water that runs over large construction trucks and entire trees.

Many rivers on the east side of the island were in moderate to major flood stages Sunday afternoon, including a southeast river that rose over 12 feet in less than 7 hours. On Sunday night, the National Weather Service also issued flood warnings for the southern portions of central Puerto Rico.

People who were evacuated from their homes take refuge in the classroom of a public school turned shelter in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico.

In response to the risks Puerto Rico faced, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration early Sunday to provide federal aid for disaster relief.

More than 300 FEMA emergency workers were on the ground to respond to the crisis, the agency’s assistant administrator for response and recovery, Anne Bink, told CNN.

“Our hearts go out to the citizens who are once again going through another catastrophic event five years later,” Bink said, nodding to the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria. This time, she said, FEMA plans to implement lessons learned from the 2017 crisis.

“We were much more prepared. We have four warehouses now strategically located across the island, which includes raw materials, exponentially larger supplies than before,” she said.

“We’re proactively there — and well ahead of any storm that hits — to make sure we’re coordinating. And all the planning efforts we undertake during the blue-sky days can be put to use when the rain falls.”

CNN’s Leyla Santiago, Jamiel Lynch, Alfonso Serrano, Caitlin Kaiser, Allie Malloy, Haley Brink, Dakin Andone and Robert Shackelford contributed to this report.

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