Fiona Strengthens in Hurricane, Aims at Puerto Rico
Posted at 11:28am on Sunday 18th Sep 2022
HAVANA – Fiona strengthened into a hurricane Sunday as it made landfall in Puerto Rico, as people braced for strong winds and possibly “historic” levels of rain.
Forecasters said the torrential rains are expected to lead to landslides and torrential flooding, with a potential of up to 25 inches in isolated areas.
“It’s time to take action and be concerned,” said Nino Correa, Puerto Rico’s emergency management commissioner.
Fiona was stationed 50 miles south of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Sunday morning. Maximum sustained winds were 80 mph and were moving west–northwest 8 mph.
Concern prevailed across the island with Fiona forecast just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm that struck on September 20, 2017, devastated the island.“the power grid and caused nearly 3,000 deaths.
More than 3,000 homes still only have a blue tarp roof, and infrastructure remains poor.
“I think all Puerto Ricans who have lived through Maria have this position–said Danny Hernandez, who works in the capital of San Juan but plans to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.
It was bleak, he said, in the supermarket where he and others stored it before the storm hit.
“After Maria,” he said, “we’ve all experienced scarcity to some degree.”
The storm was expected to hit cities and towns along Puerto Rico’s southern coast that have yet to fully recover from a series of powerful earthquakes that hit the area starting in late 2019.
Officials reported closing several roads around the island as trees and small landslides blocked access.
More than 640 people with about 70 pets had sheltered across the island by Saturday night, most of them on the south coast.
Many Puerto Ricans also expressed concern about the blackout. Luma, the company that manages power transmission and distribution, warned of “widespread outages”. As of Sunday morning, more than 450,000 customers had lost power.
Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s power grid and it remains vulnerable, with reconstruction only beginning recently. Power outages are a daily occurrence.
In the southwestern town of El Kombat, which is being hit by a storm“s track, share the hotel–The owner, Thomas Rivera, said he was prepared but worried about the “enormous” amount of rain he expected. He noted that a nearby wildlife refuge was eerily quiet.
“There are thousands of birds here,” he said, “and they can’t be seen anywhere.” “Even the birds realized what was to come, and they“Re-prepare.
Rivera said his staff brought bedridden family members to the hotel, where he stored diesel, gasoline, food, water and ice, given the government’s slow response after Hurricane Maria.
“What we have done is our willingness to rely as little as possible on the central government,” he said.
It’s a feeling shared by 70–general–Old woman Anna Cordova, who arrived Saturday at a shelter in the northern coastal town of Luisa after buying large quantities of food and water.
“I don’t trust them,” she said, referring to the government. “I lost confidence after what happened after Hurricane Maria.”
Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Berluisi, said he’s ready to declare a state of emergency if necessary, and activated the National Guard as the sixth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season approaches.
“What worries me most is the rain,” said meteorologist Ernesto Morales of the National Weather Service in San Juan.
Fiona was expected to receive 12 to 16 inches (30 to 41 cm) of rain over eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with up to 25 inches (64 cm) in isolated areas. Morales noted that Hurricane Maria in 2017 unleashed 40 inches (102 cm).
The National Weather Service warned late Saturday that the Blanco River in the southeastern coastal town of Nagwabo had already crossed its banks and urged people living nearby to move immediately.
Pierluisi announced on Sunday that public schools and government agencies will remain closed on Monday.
Fiona was expected to sweep across the Dominican Republic on Monday and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain. It could threaten the southernmost tip of the Bahamas on Tuesday.
A hurricane warning has been posted for the Dominican Republic“s east coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.
Officials said Fiona previously hit the Eastern Caribbean, killing a man in the French province of Guadeloupe when floods swept away his home. The storm also damaged roads, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one bridge.
Saint Kitts and Nevis also reported flooding and fallen trees, but announced the reopening of its international airport on Sunday afternoon. Dozens of customers remain without power or water, according to the Caribbean Emergency Management Agency.
In the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Madeleine was expected to bring torrential rain and flooding across parts of southwestern Mexico. The storm was centered 155 miles south–Southwest of Cabo Corrientes Sunday morning, with maximum winds of 45 mph.