Hurricane Fiona intensifies to a Category 3 storm dumping two feet of rain on Puerto Rico
Hurricane Fiona has strengthened to a Category 3 storm reaching winds of 135mph as it barrels towards the Turks and Caicos Islands following its devastation of Puerto Rico, where it has killed at least two people.
The first major hurricane of the season, which intensified overnight, dumped two feet of rain onto Puerto Rico, sparking flash floods that claimed the life of a 58-year-old man who was swept away by the La Plata River behind his home in Comerio, CNN reported.
As Fiona left more than 1 million without power or running water in the US territory, a second man in his 30s reportedly died after attempting to fill the generator for his home. It was still running, causing it to set fire.
More than 1,000 people have been rescued from flood waters on the island, which was still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria five years ago.
Most of the island will likely not have power back for several days, according to authorities, who are preoccupied providing electricity to the island’s hospitals and emergency services.
Although Fiona is expected to head north as it strikes other islands in the Caribbean while avoiding the US mainland, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said Puerto Rico is expected to get another 8 inches of rain or more later this week from the hurricane.
‘These rains will continue to produce life-threatening and catastrophic flooding along with mudslides and landslides across Puerto Rico,’ the center said in a statement.
The center also warned that hurricane winds will remain high at 135mph, predicting that Fiona might grow even stronger and become a Category 4 storm in the coming days.
The devastation has left more than 1,000 in need of rescue. Pictured, a man holding onto a pillar to keep flood waters from sweeping him away as Puerto Rico’s National Guard arrived to save him
A member of the National Guard was able to pull the man into a large vehicle to get him to safety
The National Guard is on the move with heavy, armored vehicles to provide rescues and aid in the recovery effort
Hurricane Fiona has upgraded to a Category 3 storm after dumping two feet of rain onto Puerto Rico, causing severe flooding
More than 1 million people are left without power or water in the US Territory, where about 1,000 people were rescued from the floods caused by Hurricane Fiona, the first major hurricane of the season
The storm has reportedly claimed the lives of two men, one who was swept up by the river behind his home and one who died in a fire while trying to refill his generator. Pictured: roads cracked open by the intense flooding and winds
Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico with winds going 90mph, but the storm has gusts now of up to 135mph
The storm is predicted to head north throughout the week as it avoids hitting the US mainland
Puerto Rico’s authorities said it is still working to estimate the damage and loss of life caused by the hurricane
While power has been restored to the island’s hospital systems, 90 percent of Puerto Ricans are still without power
The storm has caused similar damage as it goes through the Dominican Republic. Pictured, trees torn down and boats tossed in land after the storm passed through the city of Punta Cana
The Turks and Caicos Islands saw a curfew imposed on citizens on Monday to clear the streets by 5pm and remain indoors until the Hurricane passes over the British territory.
Washington Misick, the nation’s premier who was attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London on Monday, urged the islands’ residents to follow the curfew and remain safe.
‘Storms are unpredictable,’ he said in statement from London. ‘You must therefore take every precaution to ensure your safety.’
In Puerto Rico, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi described the damage as ‘catastrophic,’ adding that the island’s Institute of Forensic Sciences will be assessing the total loss of life from Fiona in the coming days.
About 90 percent of Puerto Rico remains without power, and only 35 percent of access to water after flooding ripped through the island’s filtration systems.
Juan Miguel Gonzales, a local business owner, said that the floods were the key difference between Maria and Fiona, as the latter’s unrelenting rain destroyed homes and infrastructure on a whole new scale.
‘A lot of people – more than [during] Maria – lost their houses now … lost everything in their houses because of the flooding,’ Gonzalez told CNN. ‘Maria was tough winds. But this one, with all the rain, it just destroyed everything in the house.’
Hundreds of Puerto Rico’s National Guard members were deployed to help save more than 1,000 people. Pictured: members of the Guard rescuing a woman stranded in her house
Emergency services and National Guard members used large trucks and even bulldozers to get to residents and save them
Cities across Puerto Rico were left inundated by the storm, which damaged the bulk of the island’s water filtration systems
Pictured: Members of the Dominican Republic Civil Defense Department clearing trees from the roads to allow emergency services through after Hurricane Fiona struck the country following its devastation of Puerto Rico
Like in Puerto Rico, more than 1 million people in the Dominican Republic were left without power
The strongest rains will remain concentrated in the Caribbean while parts of Florida and the Carolina are expected to get only an inch of rain as Fiona head north
After Joe Biden issued a message approving an emergency declaration in Puerto Rico on Sunday, which saw hundred’s of the island’s National Guard members deployed to help with rescue and recovery, the While House said it would send out additional aid to its territory.
‘As damage assessments are conducted, the President said that number of support personnel will increase substantially,’ the White House said in a statement.
In his statement, Biden told Puerto Rico: ‘We stand with you and we will get through this together.’
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also announced that the state would send 100 state troopers and teams from the New York Power Authority to assist in Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts.
While residents began recovery efforts late Monday, Puerto Ricans have an immense amount of damage to clean up.
The National Guard flocked to the streets to help those in need as the hurricane passed
Pictured: Residents affected by Hurricane Fiona rest at a storm shelter in Salinas, Puerto Rico, on Monday
Employees remove water from a hardware store after Hurricane Fiona passed through Puerto Rico
Pictured: Children played in a flooded street in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Salinas
Some people made their way through the flooded streets of the island on Monday
On Sunday, roads were turned into raging torrents while even newly constructed bridges following Hurricane Maria in 2017 were washed away.
The storm also washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017.
After hitting Puerto Rico, Fiona made landfall on the Dominican Republic, knocking out 59 aqueducts and leaving more than 1 million people without running water, the nation’s authorities reported.
Two women retrieve scattered items from around their damaged home in the low-income neighborhood of Kosovo in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
People rest inside a shelter after the passage of hurricane Fiona in Salinas, Puerto Rico, on September 19
Pictured: Two young men walk with difficulty due to strong winds during Hurricane Fiona, in Nagua, Dominican Republic
A man in Wheelchair looks at a flooded road after the passage of hurricane Fiona in Salinas, Puerto Rico
At least 54 homes have been knocked down in the island nation, with nearly 800 people evacuated to emergency shelter.
Hurricane season runs from mid-August into early October with September, on average, the busiest month of the season.
So far half of all named storms this season have developed in September.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an above-average hurricane season.