Hurricane Fiona blasts Turks and Caicos as a “life-threatening” Category 3 storm

Hurricane Fiona swept across the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday as a Category 3 storm after devastating Puerto Rico, where most people were left without electricity or running water. Hurricane conditions hit Grand Turk, the capital island of the small British territory, on Tuesday morning after the government imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas.

According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC), the storm was centered about 50 miles (80 km) north of the island of North Caicos Tuesday night, with hurricane strength extending as far as 35 miles from the center and tropical storm winds extending. up to 150 miles. The storm was moving in a north-northwest direction at about 8 mph.

Turks and Caicos will continue to see “heavy rain” during the evenings with “life-threatening flooding,” according to the NHC.

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic could see an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain from Fiona, the NHC predicted, bringing the potential for even more flooding. In all, parts of Puerto Rico could receive as much as 35 inches of rain from the storm, while some parts of the Dominican Republic could see 20 inches.

Fiona was expected to approach Bermuda by the end of Thursday, the NHC said, and is expected to strengthen in the coming days.

“Storms are unpredictable,” Prime Minister Washington Misick said in a statement from London, where he attended the… Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. “You must therefore take all precautions to ensure your safety.”

Dominican Republic Hurricane Fiona
A man wades through a flooded street in Nagua, Dominican Republic, on September 19, 2022, after the passage of Hurricane Fiona.

ERIKA SANTELICES/afp/AFP/Getty Images


Fiona was predicted to weaken before invading eastern Canada over the weekend. It was not expected to threaten the US mainland.

Fiona caused a blackout as it hit the southwest corner of Puerto Rico on Sunday, the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit the island as a Category 3 storm in 1989.

On Tuesday morning, authorities said they had supplied power to nearly 300,000 of the island’s 1.47 million customers. power was also restored to San Jorge Children and Women’s Hospital in San Juan Tuesday afternoon, Puerto Rico electrical distribution company Luma reported.

Puerto Rico’s governor warned it could take days for everyone to have electricity.

Water supplies were cut to more than 760,000 customers — two-thirds of the island’s total — because of cloudy water at filter plants or lack of power, officials said.

The storm was responsible for at least two deaths in Puerto Rico. A 58-year-old man died after police said he was dragged down a river in the central mountain town of Comerio. Another death was linked to a power outage — a 70-year-old man was burned after trying to fill his generator with petrol while it was running, officials said.

In the Dominican Republic, authorities also reported two deaths: a 68-year-old man hit by a falling tree and an 18-year-old girl who was hit by a falling utility pole while riding a motorcycle. The storm forced more than 1,550 people to seek safety in government shelters and left more than 406,500 homes without power.

The hurricane caused several highways to be blocked and a tourist pier in the town of Miches was badly damaged by high waves. At least four international airports were closed, officials said.

Dominican President Luis Abinader said authorities will need several days to assess the impact of the storm.

In the central Puerto Rico mountain town of Cayey, where the Plato River overflowed and the brown stream of water consumed cars and homes, overturned dressers, beds and large refrigerators lay in people’s yards on Tuesday.

“Puerto Rico isn’t prepared for this, or for anything,” said Marangy Hernández, a 48-year-old homemaker, who said she doubted the government would help her community of some 300 in the long run, despite continued efforts efforts to clear the streets and restore power. “This is just for a few days and later they forget about us.”

She and her husband were stuck in line waiting for the National Guard to clean up a landslide in their hilly neighborhood.

‘Is it open? Is it open?’ a driver asked, worried that the road might have been completely closed.

Other drivers asked the National Guard if they could swing past their homes to cut down trees or clear mud and debris.


Hurricane Fiona hits Puerto Rico, leaving most of the island without power or clean water

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Michelle Carlo, medical advisor for Direct Relief in Puerto Rico, told CBS News on Tuesday that conditions on the island were “uncannyably similar” to 2017, when hurricane Maria caused nearly 3,000 dead.

“Despite Fiona being classified as only a Category 1 hurricane, water damage in Puerto Rico is as bad or worse in places than when Maria hit us five years ago,” Carlo said.

Five years later, there are more than 3,000 houses on the island still covered in blue sails.

National Guard Brig. Gene. Narciso Cruz described the resulting flood as historic.

“There were communities that flooded in the storm that didn’t flood under Maria,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Cruz said 670 people have been rescued in Puerto Rico, including 19 people in a retirement home in the northern mountain town of Cayey that was in danger of collapse.

“The rivers broke their banks and covered communities,” he said.

Some were rescued via kayaks and boats, while others settled into the huge shovel of a digger and were lifted to higher ground.

He regretted that some people refused to leave their homes and added that he understood them.

“It’s human nature,” he said. “But when they saw that their lives were in danger, they agreed to leave.”

A member of Puerto Rico's National Guard wades through water in search of people to be rescued from flooded streets in the wake of Hurricane Fiona in Salinas, Puerto Rico, on September 19, 2022.
A member of Puerto Rico’s National Guard wades through water in search of people to be rescued from flooded streets in the wake of Hurricane Fiona in Salinas, Puerto Rico, on September 19, 2022.

Reuters/Ricardo Arduengo


Jeannette Soto, a 34-year-old manicurist, feared it would take a long time for the crew to restore power as a landslide wiped out the neighborhood’s main light pole.

“It’s the first time this has happened,” she said of the landslides. “We didn’t think the magnitude of the rain would be this big.”

Government Pedro Pierluisi requested a major disaster declaration on Tuesday and said it would take at least a week for authorities to estimate the damage Fiona caused.

He said the damage caused by the rain was “catastrophic”, especially in the central, southern and southeastern regions of the island.

“The impact of the hurricane is devastating for many people,” he said.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency traveled to Puerto Rico on Tuesday when the agency announced it would send hundreds of additional personnel to boost local response efforts.

On Tuesday evening, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra declared a public health emergency for Puerto Rico. This comes after President Biden issued an emergency declaration on Monday.

HHS has deployed 25 personnel to the island so far, the agency said in a press release.

“We will do everything we can to help officials in Puerto Rico respond to the effects of Hurricane Fiona,” Becerra said in a statement. “We are working closely with the area’s health authorities and our federal partners and are standing by to provide additional public health and medical support.”

US Senate leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday he will push for the federal government to cover 100% of disaster relief costs — instead of the usual 75% — as part of an emergency disaster declaration.

“We need to make sure that Puerto Rico has absolutely everything it needs this time, as soon as possible and for as long as they need it,” he said.


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