After 'Catastrophic' Damage in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona Isn't Done

'This is not over,' meteorologist warns
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 19, 2022 12:21 AM CDT
After 'Catastrophic' Damage in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona Isn't Done
Nelson Cirino sees his bedroom after the winds of hurricane Fiona tore the roof off his house in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022.   (AP Photo/Alejandro Granadillo)

Hurricane Fiona bore down on the Dominican Republic on Monday after knocking out the power grid and unleashing floods and landslides in Puerto Rico, where the governor said the damage was “catastrophic." No deaths have been reported, but authorities in the US territory said it was too early to estimate the damage from a storm that was still forecast to unleash torrential rain across Puerto Rico on Monday, the AP reports. Up to 30 inches was forecast for Puerto Rico's eastern and southern regions. “It’s important people understand that this is not over,” said Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan. He said flooding has reached “historic levels,” with authorities evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across the island. “The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

Brown water rushed through streets, into homes, and even consumed a runway airport in southern Puerto Rico. Fiona also ripped up asphalt from roads and washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017 as a Category 4 storm. The storm also ripped off the roofs of several homes. Fiona was centered 50 miles southeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with maximum sustained winds of 85mph on Sunday night, according to the US National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 9mph. Fiona was forecast to swipe the Dominican Republic early Monday and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain. It could threaten the far southern end of the Bahamas on Tuesday.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said. As authorities continue to assess the damage from Fiona in Puerto Rico, many wondered when power would be restored. “That’s probably the worst damage there is,” said Tomás Rivera, who co-owns a hotel in the southwest coastal town of El Combate. President Biden declared a state of emergency in the US territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner. The blackout that Hurricane Maria caused five years ago was blamed for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people in the storm’s sweltering aftermath, with power in some neighborhoods not restored until a year later. Maria was a devastating Category 4 storm that struck on Sept. 20, 2017.

(Read more Puerto Rico stories.)

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