Governor says ‘large chunks’ of Puerto Rico will soon have power

Hurricane Fiona grew stronger on Tuesday as it passed Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic after battering them with up to 30 inches of rain, causing crushing flooding, mudslides and destruction.

The storm reached the Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 3 hurricane, sweeping into UK territory around 40,000 with maximum sustained winds of 115mph. The government imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas as the archipelago braced for a 5-8ft storm surge.

About 80% of Puerto Rico was left without power on Tuesday, more than 24 hours after the storm knocked out the island’s entire electrical system. Water service has been cut to more than 837,000 customers – two-thirds of the total on the island, officials said.

Governor Pedro Pierluisi and electricity distribution company LUMA Energy both said a “large part” of the island would have power again by Wednesday, the El Nuevo Día newspaper reported. Pierluisi foresaw the possibility that it could take until the weekend.

The governor also requested a major disaster declaration which, if granted, would free up federal funds for public and individual relief. US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would urge the federal government to cover 100% of disaster response costs under the declaration, instead of the usual 75%.

In the Dominican Republic, more than a million people were without running water and 700,000 homes and businesses were without power, the National Emergency Operations Center said.

At least three deaths have been reported, two in Puerto Rico and one in the Dominican Republic.

PICTURES:Hurricane Fiona floods homes and streets in Puerto Rico

HOW TO HELP:A Look at Mutual Aid, Non-Profit Organizations to Help Support Puerto Ricans


More rain was forecast during the week in parts of Puerto Rico, and conditions are not expected to improve significantly. “Catastrophic and life-threatening moderate-to-severe urban flash flooding and landslides are likely in southern and eastern Puerto Rico through Tuesday due to rainfall from Hurricane Fiona,” a statement said. notified the National Weather Service.

Thousands have been displaced while Puerto Rican authorities said at least 2,300 people and 250 pets were in shelters across the island.

in Grand Turk, hurricane conditions slammed the capital of the small British territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The government imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas.

For the Americas, forecasters say the hurricane is not expected to threaten the United States.

Here’s what we know:

Hurricane Fiona becomes a Category 3 storm

Fiona, which upgraded to a Category 3 storm overnight, is expected to intensify over the next few days, the National Weather Service said:

  • Centered near Grand Turk Island: Fiona, with sustained winds of 115 mph, was moving north-northwest at 9 mph and was centered about 40 miles north of Grand Turk Island.
  • Turks and Caicos Islands: Hurricane conditions over the Turks and Caicos Islands were expected to persist for hours. Heavy rains are expected to continue this afternoon and cause life-threatening flooding, the National Weather Service said.
  • In the Bahamas: Tropical storm conditions were expected to spread over parts of the southeastern Bahamas throughout the day.

First assessment in the Dominican Republic: 1 dead, 12,000 displaced

More than 1,000 Dominican Republic residents were living in shelters on Tuesday after Fiona crossed the country. More than a million of the country’s roughly 12 million people were without running water and more than 700,000 homes and businesses were without power, the National Emergency Operations Center said.

One death was reported, 12,485 people were displaced, 3,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and four bridges collapsed.

Juan Manuel Mendez, director of the organization, said Dominican Today that Isidro Odalis Smith, 68, was crushed by a falling tree in the northern town of Nagua, in the province of Maria Trinidad Sanchez.

President Luis Abinader has pledged to restore drinking water and electrical service to communities “as soon as possible”. He said authorities would need several days to assess the damage.

Authorities closed ports and beaches and told most people not to work. The hurricane blocked several highways and a tourist pier in the town of Miches was badly damaged by high waves. At least four international airports have been closed, officials said.

How you can help

Advocates stress the importance of supporting local organizations and local self-help groups that provide relief on the ground to communities in Puerto Rico. Several organizations are providing crucial aid, such as solar lamps, generators, supplies and food.

To help Puerto Ricans and other Caribbean people recover, here is a list of some non-profit organizations and mutual aid funds that you can support.

More rain for overwhelmed Puerto Rico

The National Weather Service warned of another 1 to 4 inches of rain over much of Puerto Rico through Wednesday morning. Storm totals reached 12 to 20 inches in most areas, but some places saw up to 35 inches.

“Additional flash and localized urban flooding are possible in southern parts of Puerto Rico,” the weather service said.

Brigadier of the National Guard. Gen. Narciso Cruz put the flooding into perspective by comparing it to the massive amount of water Category 4 Hurricane Maria brought five years ago on Tuesday.

“There were communities that were flooded by the storm that weren’t flooded under Maria,” Cruz said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Fiona made landfall as a Category 1 storm Sunday afternoon on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, then made landfall again early Monday on the east coast of the Dominican Republic.

2,500 people affected in the coastal Salinas

In Salinas, a hard-hit municipality of about 30,000 people on the south coast of Puerto Rico, Mayor Karily Bonilla estimated that 2,500 people had their homes flooded. The National Guard has led a team of responders in more than 500 water rescues, and Bonilla expressed gratitude for the rescue efforts “that put their own at risk.”

“We had to carry out a titanic operation to save people who were in completely flooded areas,” Bonilla said. “Refugees tell us that they have lived in some communities for 60 years and that an event of this magnitude has never happened.”

Minerva Monge, 70, was rescued with her husband by the National Guard after water in their home reached their knees.

“What I hope is that everything calms down, that the place dries up and that we can come back,” she said.

Biden promises more federal aid

AccuWeather estimated the economic impact on Fiona Island at around $10 billion. President Joe Biden, who has declared a state of emergency to release federal aid, said he spoke with Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Monday night. Biden has promised to “substantially” increase support in the coming days.

“Jill and I keep the people of Puerto Rico in our prayers as Hurricane Fiona passes through your beautiful island,” Biden tweeted. “We’re here for you, and we’ll get through this together.”

Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria 5 years ago

Fiona hit Puerto Rico nearly five years to the day after Hurricane Maria hit the island on September 20, 2017, with winds of up to 155 mph – just 2 mph from a Category 5 storm.

Maria left almost 3,000 people dead, destroyed the power grid and devastated tens of thousands of homes – around 3,000 of which remain covered in tarpaulins.

Bridge built after Maria was carried away by Fiona

The destruction wrought across the island by Fiona included a temporary bridge in the town of Utuado that was built after Hurricane Maria. The bridge over the Guanica River in the central highlands was washed away by floodwaters on Sunday when Fiona made landfall.

United States House Delegate Roberto Lefranc Fortuño published video of the bridge, known as PR-123, tearing and carrying away. People can be heard screaming amid the clanking of metal as a man stands with his hands over his head in disbelief.

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Contributor: The Associated Press

USA Today

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