Hurricane Fiona slams into Dominican Republic after knocking out power in Puerto Rico and causing ‘catastrophic’ damage

Hurricane Fiona slams into Dominican Republic after knocking out power in Puerto Rico and causing ‘catastrophic’ damage

Hurricane Fiona slams into Dominican Republic after knocking out power in Puerto Rico and causing ‘catastrophic’ damage

Puerto Rico hit by Hurricane Fiona, 5 years after Hurricane Maria


Puerto Rico hit by Hurricane Fiona, 5 years after Hurricane Maria

02:14

Hurricane Fiona roared across the Dominican Republic on Monday after knocking out power across Puerto Rico, causing damage the governor said was “catastrophic.”

No deaths had been reported, but authorities in the US territory said it was too early to know the full extent of the damage from an expansive storm that was still forecast to unleash torrential rain across Puerto Rico on Monday.

Up to 30 inches was forecast for Puerto Rico’s southern region. As much as 15 inches was forecast for the eastern Dominican Republic.

“It’s important that people understand that this is not over,” said Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

He said flooding reached “historic levels”, with authorities evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across the island.

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Hurricane Fiona is approaching Puerto Rico on Sunday, September 18, 2022.

NOAA


At 8:00 a.m. ET, the That’s what the National Hurricane Center says that “hurricane conditions” continued over parts of the Dominican Republic. “Heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding” continued across most of Puerto Rico.

– The damage we see is catastrophic, said Governor Pedro Pierluisi.

Deanne Criswell, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement to CBS News Sunday night that the agency was “actively supporting” Puerto Rico and “immediately deployed hundreds of FEMA personnel before the storm made landfall.”

“Our focus right now is on lifesaving efforts and responding to immediate needs like power restoration,” Criswell said.

Before dawn on Monday, authorities in a boat navigated the flooded streets of the northern coastal town of Catano and used a megaphone to alert people that the pumps had collapsed and urged them to evacuate as soon as possible.

Brown water poured through streets, into homes and consumed a runway airport in southern Puerto Rico.

Fiona also ripped asphalt from roads and washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police said was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017 as a Category 4 storm.

The storm also tore roofs off homes, including that of Nelson Cirino in the northern coastal town of Loiza.

“I was sleeping and watched as the corrugated cardboard flew off,” he said as he watched the rain soak his belongings and the wind whip his colorful curtains into the air.

Fiona was centered 35 miles southeast of Samana in the Dominican Republic, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph Monday morning, according to the US National Hurricane Center. It was moving north-west at eight km/h.

Tropical storm force winds extended 150 miles from the center.

Forecasters said the storm was expected to emerge over the Atlantic Ocean in the afternoon and pass near the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday. It could approach Bermuda as a major hurricane late Thursday or Friday.

Fiona hit Puerto Rico on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into the island in 1989 as a Category 3 storm, and two days before the anniversary of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria — from which the territory has yet to fully recover.

That hurricane caused nearly 3,000 deaths and destroyed the power grid. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes still only have a blue tarpaulin as a roof.

Authorities announced on Monday that power had been returned to 100,000 customers on an island of 3.2 million people, but power distribution company Luma said it could take days to restore service.

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A flooded road is seen during the passage of Hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico, on September 18, 2022.

JOSE RODRIGUEZ/AFP via Getty Images


US President Joe Biden had declared a state of emergency on US territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s south-west corner.

Puerto Rico’s health centers ran on generators – and some of them had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews rushed to repair generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, where several patients had to be evacuated.

Fiona has previously hit the eastern Caribbean, killing a man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed away his home, officials said.

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