Hurricane warning issued for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico under hurricane warning as tropical storm Fiona is looming


The eye of the newly arisen Hurricane Fiona It approached the coast of Puerto Rico on Sunday – already leaving hundreds of thousands without electricity and threatening to dump “historic” rainfall.

Forecasts say the downpour was to cause landslides and catastrophic flooding, up to 64 centimeters in isolated areas.

“It’s time to act and be concerned,” said Nino Correa, Puerto Rico Crisis Management Commissioner.

Fiona was 25 miles southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico on Sunday morning. It had maximum steady winds of 85mph and was moving from west to northwest at 8mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Puerto Rico governor Pedro Pierluisi wrote on Facebook on Sunday afternoon that “the electrical system is currently out of service” on the island.

President Biden declared a state of emergency in the US as the eye of the storm approached the southwestern tip of the island.

Fiona has cut power to over 720,000 customers and several health care facilities, including Puerto Rico’s largest public hospital that runs on generators. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews are working to repair the generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center as soon as possible.

Unrest swept the entire island as Fiona was due to arrive just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm that struck September 20, 2017, destroying the island’s power grid and causing nearly 3,000 d*aths.

More than 3,000 homes still only have a blue tarpaulin as a roof and the infrastructure remains poor.

“I think all Puerto Ricans who have survived Maria experience post-traumatic stress:” What will happen, how long will it take, and with what needs can we face? ” Said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital city of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western city of Mayaguez.

Tropical weather in Puerto Rico
Residents stick protective plywood to the window of their home in preparation for the arrival of the Fiona tropical storm in Loiza, Puerto Rico on Saturday 17 September 2022.

Alejandro Granadillo / AP

He said the atmosphere in the supermarket was grim as he and the others stocked up before the storm.

“After Mary, we all experienced a shortage to some extent,” he said.

The storm was predicted to hit towns and cities along Puerto Rico’s south coast that had yet to be fully recovered from a series of severe earthquakes that hit the region in late 2019.

Officials reported several road closures across the island as trees and small landslides blocked access.

More than 640 people with around 70 pets sought refuge across the island until Saturday night, most of them on the south coast.

Many Puerto Ricans also feared blackouts. Luma, a power transmission and distribution company, warned of “widespread service interruptions.”

Puerto Rico’s power grid was razed to the ground by Hurricane Maria and remains weak, with reconstruction only recently started. Downtime is everyday life.

In the southwestern city of El Combate, which is on a storm path, hotel co-owner Tomás Rivera said he was prepared but was worried about the “enormous” amount of rain he expected. He noticed that the nearby wildlife shelter was eerily quiet.

“There are thousands of birds here and you can’t see them anywhere,” he said. “Even the birds have realized what is coming and are getting ready.”

Rivera said his staff brought bedridden family members to the hotel, where he stocked up on diesel, gas, food, water and ice, given how slowly the government reacted after Hurricane Maria.

“What we have done is prepare to rely as little as possible on a central government,” he said.

This feeling is shared by the 70-year-old Ana Córdova, who arrived at the Loiza shelter on the north coast on Saturday after purchasing plenty of food and water.

“I don’t trust them,” she said, referring to the government. “I lost my trust after what happened after Hurricane Maria.”

Governor Pierluisi said he was ready to declare a state of emergency if needed, and activated the National Guard as the Sixth Atlantic Storm loomed.

“I’m worried about the rain,” said forecaster Ernesto Morales of the National Weather Service in San Juan.

Fiona was projected to fall 12 to 16 inches of rain over eastern and southern Puerto Rico, and as much as 25 inches in single spots. Morales noticed that Hurricane Maria in 2017 released 40 inches.

The National Weather Service warned late Saturday that the Blanco River in the southeastern coastal city of Naguabo had already crossed its banks and urged people living nearby to move immediately.

Pierluisi announced on Sunday that public schools and government agencies would remain closed on Monday.

Fiona was forecast to embrace the Dominican Republic on Monday, followed by northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rains. On Tuesday, it could threaten the far southern tip of the Bahamas.

The Hurricane Warning has been published for the Dominican east coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

Fiona had previously hit the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in Guadeloupe’s French territory as floods washed away his home. The storm also damaged roads, uprooted trees, and destroyed at least one bridge.

St. Kitts and Nevis have also reported flooding and fallen trees, but announced that the international airport will reopen on Sunday afternoon. In the event of disasters, dozens of customers still had no electricity or water, according to the Caribbean Emergency Management Agency.

In the eastern Pacific, the Madeline tropical storm is predicted to cause heavy rains and flooding in parts of southwest Mexico. The storm was concentrated approximately 155 miles southwest of Cabo Corrientes on Sunday morning, with a maximum steady wind of 45 mph.

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