Hurricane Fiona lashes Puerto Rico, knocks out energy to complete island

Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico’s southwest coast on Sunday because it unleashed landslides, knocked the facility grid out and ripped up asphalt from roads and flung the items round.

Forecasters said the storm would trigger large flooding and threatened to dump “historic” ranges of rain, with as much as 30 inches attainable in jap and southern Puerto Rico.

“The damages that we’re seeing are catastrophic,” stated Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

“I urge folks to remain of their properties,” stated William Miranda Torres, mayor of the northern city of Caguas, the place a minimum of one giant landslide was reported, with water speeding down a giant slab of damaged asphalt and right into a gully.

The storm additionally 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.

Hurricane Fiona approaches Puerto Rico on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022.


Fiona was centered 10 miles west of Mayaguez with most sustained winds of 85 mph, in accordance with the U.S. Nationwide Hurricane Heart. It was shifting to the northwest at 9 mph.

Fiona struck on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit Puerto Rico 33 years in the past as a Class 3 storm.

The storm’s clouds lined the whole island and tropical storm-force winds prolonged so far as 140 miles from Fiona’s middle.

U.S. 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.

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

“Present climate circumstances are extraordinarily harmful and are hindering out capability to guage the whole scenario,” it stated, including that it may take a number of days to completely restore energy.

Well being facilities had been operating on mills — and a few of these had failed. Well being Secretary Carlos Mellado stated crews had been working to restore mills as quickly as attainable on the Complete Most cancers Heart.

Puerto Rico Tropical Weather
Residents connect protecting plywood to a window of their residence in preparation for the arrival of Tropical Storm Fiona, in Loiza, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022.

Alejandro Granadillo / AP

Fiona hit simply two days earlier than the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Class 4 storm that struck on Sept. 20, 2017, destroying the island’s energy grid and inflicting almost 3,000 deaths.

Greater than 3,000 properties nonetheless have solely a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure stays weak.

“I believe all of us Puerto Ricans who lived by Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What will occur, how lengthy is it going to final and what wants may we face?'” stated Danny Hernández, who works within the capital of San Juan however deliberate to climate the storm together with his mother and father and household within the western city of Mayaguez.

He stated the ambiance was gloomy on the grocery store as he and others stocked up earlier than the storm hit.

“After Maria, all of us skilled shortage to some extent,” he stated.

The storm was forecast to pummel cities and cities alongside Puerto Rico’s southern coast that haven’t but totally recovered from a string of robust earthquakes beginning in late 2019.

Officers reported a number of highway closures throughout the island as timber and small landslides blocked entry.

Greater than 780 folks with some 80 pets had sought shelter throughout the island by Saturday evening, nearly all of them within the southern coast.

Puerto Rico’s energy grid was razed by Hurricane Maria and stays frail, with reconstruction beginning solely just lately. Outages are a each day incidence.

Within the southwest city of El Combate, lodge co-owner Tomás Rivera stated he was ready however nervous concerning the “huge” quantity of rain he anticipated. He famous {that a} close by wildlife refuge was eerily quiet.

“There are literally thousands of birds right here, and they’re nowhere to be seen,” he stated. “Even the birds have realized what’s coming, they usually’re making ready.”

Rivera stated his workers introduced bedridden members of the family to the lodge, the place he has stocked up on diesel, gasoline, meals, water and ice, given how slowly the federal government responded after Hurricane Maria.

“What we have achieved is ready ourselves to rely as little as attainable on the central authorities,” he stated.

It is a sentiment shared by 70-year-old Ana Córdova, who arrived Saturday at a shelter within the north coastal city of Loiza after shopping for a great deal of meals and water.

“I do not belief them,” she stated, referring to the federal government. “I misplaced belief after what occurred after Hurricane Maria.”

Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, activated the Nationwide Guard because the Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm approached.

“What worries me most is the rain,” stated forecaster Ernesto Morales with the Nationwide Climate Service in San Juan.

Fiona was predicted to drop 12 to 16 inches of rain over jap and southern Puerto Rico, with as a lot as 25 inches in remoted spots. Morales famous that Hurricane Maria in 2017 had unleashed 40 inches.

Pierluisi introduced Sunday that public faculties and authorities businesses would stay closed on Monday.

Fiona was forecast to swipe the Dominican Republic on 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.

A hurricane warning was posted for the Dominican Republic’s jap coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

Fiona beforehand battered the jap Caribbean, killing one man within the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his residence away, officers stated. The storm additionally broken roads, uprooted timber and destroyed a minimum of one bridge.

St. Kitts and Nevis additionally reported flooding and downed timber, however introduced its worldwide airport would reopen on Sunday afternoon. Dozens of consumers had been nonetheless with out energy or water, in accordance with the Caribbean Catastrophe Emergency Administration Company.

Within the jap Pacific, Tropical Storm Madeline was forecast to trigger heavy rains and flooding throughout elements of southwestern Mexico. The storm was centered about 155 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes Sunday morning, with most sustained winds of 45 mph.

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