– Major damage in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic also affected
Hurricane Fiona hit the Dominican Republic on Monday after devastating Puerto Rico. Many Puerto Rican residents are still without power.
Hurricane Fiona hit the Dominican Republic on Monday after causing “catastrophic” flooding and damage in Puerto Rico, its Caribbean neighbor where it left residents without power and continues to cause heavy rainfall.
Several roads were flooded or cut by falling trees or electric poles around the resort town of Punta Cana in the eastern Dominican Republic, where the electricity supply was interrupted, according to journalists AFP on the spot.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), based in Miami, the winds were blowing up to 150 km / h. Fiona is expected to strengthen in the coming days to become a major hurricane by Wednesday, according to the same source. The hurricane, which made landfall in the Dominican Republic early Monday, “passed at full speed,” Vicente Lopez, who runs Bibijagua beach in Punta Cana, told AFP, lamenting the destroyed businesses.
Strong winds were also sweeping the northern town of Nagua, AFP found. Videos published in the local press showed residents of the coastal town of Higüey (east) in water up to their waists, trying to put personal belongings under cover.
State of emergency declared
In Puerto Rico, where the hurricane first passed and where a tropical storm warning remains in effect, “the damage to infrastructure (…) and homes has been catastrophic,” said the governor of Puerto Rico. , Pedro Pierluisi, during a press conference. Fiona caused landslides, downed trees and power lines, made roads impassable and swept away a bridge in the town of Utuado.
A man died “calcined” by putting fuel in a lit generator, according to the authorities. “Unfortunately, we are expecting more rain all over the island today and tomorrow,” said the governor of Puerto Rico, urging people not to venture into the streets.
“In many areas, which had never had floods, there was an accumulation of water without precedent”, “more than what we saw during Hurricane Maria”, explained Pedro Pierluisi. Fiona’s passage “was violent”, says Elena Santiago, an anesthesiologist at the Mennonite Hospital of Aibonito, in the center of the island. “We have no water or electricity. The hospital works thanks to a generator, we only treat emergencies”.
A former Spanish colony, Puerto Rico, which became a US territory at the end of the 19th century before acquiring a special status of “Associated Free State” in the 1950s, has been experiencing serious infrastructure problems for several years.
The island was devastated in 2017 by hurricanes Irma and Maria, which seriously damaged its power grid. This was then privatized in June 2021 with the stated aim of solving the problem of power cuts. The island, however, experienced a blackout in April 2022.
The entire territory of Puerto Rico, which has more than three million inhabitants, was without electricity as the hurricane approached. On Monday, power had been restored for 100,000 people, according to the governor. By Sunday, Fiona had upgraded from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane, at the bottom of the Saffir-Simpson scale, and made landfall on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico.
US President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency. He spoke with the island’s governor on Monday and said the number of federal personnel already working to help the territory, currently at more than 300, would increase “significantly.” With the warming of the surface of the oceans, the frequency of the most intense hurricanes, with more violent winds and more important precipitations, increases.
Fiona had already caused serious damage during her visit to Guadeloupe overnight from Friday to Saturday. In places, the water had risen more than 1.5 meters. A man had died there, carried away with his house by the waves of a flooded river.
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