Hurricane Fiona Heads To Dominican Republic After Pounding Puerto Rico

HAVANA (AP) — Hurricane Fiona bore down on the Dominican Republic Monday after knocking out the ability grid and unleashing floods and landslides in Puerto Rico, the place the governor mentioned the harm was “catastrophic.”

No deaths have been reported, however authorities within the U.S. territory mentioned it was too early to estimate the harm from a storm that was nonetheless forecast to unleash torrential rain throughout Puerto Rico on Monday.

As much as 30 inches was forecast for Puerto Rico’s jap and southern areas.

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

He mentioned flooding has reached “historic levels,” with authorities evacuating or rescuing a whole lot of individuals throughout the island.

“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” mentioned Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

Luma, the corporate that operates energy transmission and distribution, mentioned unhealthy climate, together with winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission traces on Sunday, resulting in “a blackout on all the island.”

Stephanie Rojas by way of Related Press

Brown water rushed by streets, into properties and even consumed a runway airport in southern Puerto Rico.

Fiona additionally ripped up asphalt from roads and washed away a bridge within the central mountain city of Utuado that police say was put in by the Nationwide Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017 as a Class 4 storm.

The storm additionally ripped off the roofs of a number of properties, together with that of Nelson Cirino within the northern coastal city of Loiza.

“I was sleeping and saw when the corrugated metal flew off,” he mentioned as he noticed how the rain drenched his belonging.

Ada Vivian Román, a 21-year-old pictures pupil, mentioned the storm knocked down bushes and fences in her hometown of Toa Alta.

“I’m actually very anxious because it’s a really slow-moving hurricane,” she mentioned.

She mentioned she can also be apprehensive about whether or not the general public transportation she depends on to get to her job at a public relations company will probably be working by the point she has to return to the workplace.

“But I know that I’m privileged compared with other families who are practically losing their homes because they are under water,” she mentioned.

Fiona was centered 50 miles southeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with most sustained winds of 85 mph on Sunday evening, in keeping with the U.S. Nationwide Hurricane Heart. It was transferring to the northwest at 9 mph.

It hit on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into the island in 1989 as a Class 3 storm.

As authorities proceed to evaluate the harm from Fiona, many puzzled when energy could be restored.

“That’s probably the worst damage there is,” mentioned Tomás Rivera, who co-owns a lodge within the southwest coastal city of El Combate.

President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency within the U.S. territory as the attention of the storm approached the island’s southwest nook.

The blackout that Hurricane Maria prompted was blamed for the deaths of practically 3,000 individuals within the storm’s sweltering aftermath, with energy in some neighborhoods not restored till a yr later. Maria was a devastating Class 4 storm that struck on Sept. 20, 2017.

Luma, the corporate that operates energy transmission and distribution, mentioned unhealthy climate, together with winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission traces on Sunday, resulting in “a blackout on all the island.”

Well being facilities had been working on turbines — and a few of these had failed. Well being Secretary Carlos Mellado mentioned crews rushed to restore turbines on the Complete Most cancers Heart, the place a number of sufferers needed to be evacuated.

Greater than 3,000 properties nonetheless have solely a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure stays weak, together with the ability grid. Outages stay widespread, and reconstruction began solely just lately.

“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?’” mentioned Danny Hernández, who works within the capital of San Juan however deliberate to climate the storm along with his dad and mom and household within the western city of Mayaguez.

The storm pummeled cities and cities alongside Puerto Rico’s southern coast that haven’t but absolutely recovered from a string of robust earthquakes beginning in late 2019.

Greater than 1,000 individuals with some 80 pets had sought shelter throughout the island by Sunday evening, the vast majority of them within the southern coast.

Fiona was forecast to swipe the Dominican Republic early Monday after which northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the specter of heavy rain. It may threaten the far southern finish of the Bahamas on Tuesday.

Hurricane warnings had been posted for the Dominican Republic’s jap coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo, and for the Turks and Caicos.

Fiona beforehand battered the jap Caribbean, killing one man within the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his house away, officers mentioned.