Puerto Rico Prepares for Landslides, Flooding

Forecasters expect tropical storm to become a hurricane
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 17, 2022 4:15 PM CDT
Puerto Rico Prepares for Landslides, Flooding
This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Tropical Storm Fiona in the Caribbean on Saturday.   (NOAA via AP)

Tropical Storm Fiona was expected to become a hurricane as it neared Puerto Rico on Saturday, threatening to dump up to 20 inches of rain as people braced for potential landslides, severe flooding, and power outages. The storm previously battered various eastern Caribbean islands, with one death reported in the French territory of Guadeloupe. Regional prefect Alexandre Rochatte told reporters Saturday that the body was found on the side of a road after floods washed away a home in the capital of Basse-Terre. More than 20 other people were rescued amid heavy wind and rain that left 13,000 customers without power, the AP reports.

Fiona was located 90 miles south-southeast of St. Croix on Saturday afternoon with maximum sustained winds of 60mph. It was moving west at 8 mph on a path forecast to pass near or over Puerto Rico on Sunday night. Fiona was expected to become a hurricane while moving near Puerto Rico. "We are already starting to feel its effects," said Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi. "We should not underestimate this storm." He said the heavy rains anticipated are especially dangerous because the island's soil is already saturated. Many Puerto Ricans are worried about power outages because the reconstruction of the island's power grid razed by Hurricane Maria in 2017 only recently began. The grid remains fragile, and power outages occur daily, with some 80,000 customers already in the dark on Saturday.

Fiona is expected to swipe past the Dominican Republic on Sunday as a potential hurricane and Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Monday and Tuesday. Forecasters issued a hurricane watch for the US Virgin Islands, as well as the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engaño west to Cabo Caucedo and for the northern coast from Cabo Engaño west to Puerto Plata. In Puerto Rico, authorities opened shelters and closed public beaches, casinos, theaters, and museums as they urged people to remain indoors. "It's time to activate your emergency plan and contact and help your relatives, especially elderly adults who live alone," said Dr. Gloria Amador, who runs a nonprofit health organization in central Puerto Rico.

(Read more Puerto Rico stories.)

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