More On: Hurricane Fiona
Hurricane Fiona headed toward the Dominican Republic on Monday after knocking out the power grid and causing flooding and landslides in Puerto Rico, where the governor said the damage was 'catastrophic.'
There have been no reports of deaths, but officials in the U.S. territory said it was too soon to know how much damage a storm that was still expected to bring heavy rain to Puerto Rico on Monday would do.
The eastern and southern parts of Puerto Rico were expected to get as much as 30 inches of rain.
Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan, said, "It's important for people to know that this is not over."
He said that the flooding has reached "historic levels," and hundreds of people have been evacuated or saved across the island.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said, "The damage we are seeing is terrible."
In the southern part of Puerto Rico, brown water rushed through the streets, into homes, and even ate up an airport runway.
Fiona also tore up asphalt on roads and washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado. The bridge was built by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017 as a Category 4 storm.
Several homes' roofs were also ripped off by the storm, including Nelson Cirino's in the northern coastal town of Loiza.
"I was sleeping when the corrugated metal flew off, and I saw it happen," he said as he watched the rain soak his things.
A photography student named Ada Vivian Román, who is 21 years old, said that the storm broke down trees and fences in her home town of Toa Alta.
She said, "I'm very worried because the hurricane is moving so slowly."
She also said she was worried about whether the public transportation she uses to get to her job at a public relations agency would still be running by the time she had to go back to work.
"But I know I'm lucky compared to other families whose homes are almost underwater and are about to be lost," she said.
According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, Fiona was centered 50 miles southeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on Sunday night. It had sustained winds of up to 85 mph. It was going 9 mph to the northwest.
It hit on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which was a Category 3 storm that hit the island in 1989.
As the damage from Fiona is still being looked at by the government, many people were wondering when the power would be back on.
"That's probably the worst damage," said Tomás Rivera, who owns a hotel in the coastal town of El Combate in the southwest of the country.
As the storm's eye moved toward the southwest corner of the island, U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory.
Nearly 3,000 people died in the hot days after Hurricane Maria because they didn't have power. In some neighborhoods, the power didn't come back on until a year later. Maria was a Category 4 storm that hit on September 20, 2017 and caused a lot of damage.
The company in charge of sending and distributing electricity, Luma, said that bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had damaged transmission lines on Sunday, causing "a blackout on the whole island."
Some of the generators that ran the health centers had broken down. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said that crews worked quickly to fix generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, where several patients had to be moved.
More than 3,000 homes still only have a blue tarp for a roof, and the power grid and other infrastructure are still in bad shape. Power outages are still common, and rebuilding just started.
"I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, 'What is going to happen, how long is it going to last, and what might we need?'" said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to ride out the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.
Cities and towns on Puerto Rico's southern coast that hadn't fully recovered from a series of strong earthquakes that started in late 2019 were hit hard by the storm.
By Sunday night, more than 1,000 people and about 80 pets had found shelter across the island, with most of them in the south.
The Dominican Republic, northern Haiti, and the Turks and Caicos Islands could get a lot of rain from Fiona on Monday morning. On Tuesday, it could be a threat to the most southern part of the Bahamas.
There were hurricane warnings posted for the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo, as well as for the Turks and Caicos.
Fiona hit the eastern Caribbean before, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed away his house.