© Reuters. Employees take away utility poles within the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Higuey, Dominican Republic, September 19, 2022. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas
By Ivelisse Rivera and Ezequiel Abiu Lopez
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico/SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (Reuters) – Hurricane Fiona bore down on Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday as a robust Class 3 storm, threatening the Caribbean archipelago with heavy rains and life-threatening flooding after slicing a path of destruction by way of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
On Tuesday morning, the storm slammed Grand Turk, the chain’s largest island, and was transferring nearer to the primary cluster of islands by afternoon, the U.S. Nationwide Hurricane Heart mentioned in its 11 a.m. Japanese replace.
“The Turks and Caicos proper now are getting hammered with hurricane situations,” Appearing NHC Director Michael Brennan mentioned.
To the south, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have been shocked by the storm’s depth and have been struggling to deal with the aftermath. Not less than three individuals died, two in Puerto Rico and one in Guadeloupe earlier within the week, officers mentioned.
On Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona was a painful reminder of the island’s vulnerability. Tuesday marked the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which killed about 3,000 individuals within the U.S. territory and destroyed its energy grid.
Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, dumping as much as 30 inches (76.2 cm) of rain in some areas.
Two days later, almost 80% of Puerto Rico remained with out energy on Tuesday, based on Poweroutage.us. Officers mentioned it could take days to reconnect the entire island of three.3 million individuals.
“It knocked down many timber, there are downed poles and right here in the home we obtained water the place it had by no means occurred earlier than,” mentioned Asbertly Vargas, a 40-year-old mechanic whose house in Yauco, a city alongside the island’s southern coast, was flooded.
“A fence within the yard fell down and the land within the again slid a bit in direction of our home. However I am effective, I am alive,” Vargas mentioned.
On the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British Abroad Territory with 40 low-lying coral islands and a inhabitants of about 40,000 about 700 miles southeast of Florida, the federal government’s Nationwide Emergency Operations Heart (NEOC) informed residents of three japanese islands to shelter in place, and ordered companies to shut.
Turks and Caicos Premier Washington Misick, who attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, issued an announcement from London warning residents to organize for the storm.
Residents have been stocking up on meals and water whereas shelters have been being ready. Overseas governments issued journey alerts for the islands, a preferred vacationer vacation spot.
Related preparations have been underneath approach within the japanese Bahamas, which the storm might skirt on Wednesday, when it was forecast to show in a northwesterly observe towards Bermuda.
It might mushroom right into a Class 4 storm in coming days, reaching Canada’s Atlantic coast by late Friday, the NHC mentioned.
Within the Dominican Republic, extreme flooding restricted highway entry to villages, pressured 12,500 individuals from their properties and knocked out energy to a whole lot of 1000’s.
Fiona was the primary hurricane to attain a direct hit on the Dominican Republic since Jeanne left extreme harm within the east of the nation in 2004.
Dominican President Luis Abinader canceled plans to attend the United Nations Common Meeting to be able to tackle the emergency.
As of Monday night time, the nation’s emergency middle counted greater than 1.1 million individuals with out consuming water because of failures in aqueducts and greater than 700,000 with out electrical energy, particularly within the east of the nation.
“It’s my most important obligation to fulfill the wants and urgencies which are wanted right now in our nation,” Abinader mentioned in a video printed Monday night time on social networks.
Federal Emergency Administration Company (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell will journey to Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
Puerto Rico’s energy grid is fragile regardless of emergency repairs after Maria, based on the Heart for a New Economic system, a Puerto Rican assume tank.
LUMA Vitality, which was contracted to function Puerto Rico’s energy grid in 2020, mentioned on Monday that its crews have been assessing harm, performing essential repairs and dealing with the Puerto Rico Electrical Energy Authority (PREPA) and personal mills to extend technology and reenergize the electrical grid.
PREPA, which operated the island’s energy grid when Hurricane Maria hit, nonetheless owns a lot of Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure.
Maria, a Class 5 storm in 2017, killed 3,000 individuals, left 1.5 million clients with out electrical energy and knocked out 80% of energy strains. Hundreds of Puerto Ricans nonetheless stay underneath makeshift tarpaulin roofs.