Hurricane Fiona made landfall along the extreme southwestern coast of
Puerto Rico, near Punta Tocon, at 3:20 p.m. ET Sunday with winds of 85
mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The hurricane is already causing catastrophic flooding as it moves just
west of Puerto Rico and heads for the Dominican Republic, the center said
in a 5 p.m. update.
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The hurricane center is forecasting 12-18 inches of rainfall with a local
maximum of 30 inches, particularly across eastern and southern Puerto
Rico. Nearby in the norther and eastern parts of the Dominican Republic,
4-8 inches of rainfall is expected, with a local maximum of 12 inches
possible along the northeast coast.
“These rains will produce life-threatening and catastrophic flash and
urban flooding across Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic,
along with mudslides and landslides in areas of higher terrain,” the
hurricane center said.
A flash flood emergency was issued for Sector San Felipe and Mosquito in
Salinas County Sunday night as heavy rainfall pounded the region, where
10-15 inches of rain have already fallen, and another 2-4 inches are
possible, according to the National Weather Service.
The heavy rainfall in Salinas County has already led to multiple swift
water rescues, and the Weather Service is urging people to “move to higher
ground now. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area
subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.”
All of Puerto Rico lost power earlier Sunday, according to PowerOutage.us,
as the Category 1 storm approached the islands.
Many rivers on the eastern side of the territory are in moderate to major
flood stage. One river in the southeast has risen over 12 feet in less
than seven hours and is now over 25 feet, breaking the previous record of
24.79 feet set in 2017 during Hurricane Maria.
Hurricane Fiona is the third of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season and
forecast to become a major hurricane – a storm of Category 3 or higher –
in about 48 hours, east of the Bahamas.
Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach portions of the Dominican
Republic within the next few hours and then in the Turks and Caicos
Islands and portions of the southeastern Bahamas by early Tuesday.
The government of the Bahamas issued a tropical storm warning for the
Turks and Caicos and for the Southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins,
Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana and the Ragged Islands.
The storm’s impacts have already been felt: At least one death has been
reported in Basse-Terre in the French territory of Guadeloupe, according
to the vice president of the territory’s environmental agency, who said
the capital had been devastated by flooding.
Puerto Rico without power as hurricane lashes the islands
Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi confirmed the territory-wide outage in a
tweet, noting the entire electric system was out of service and officials
have activated the proper protocols to work to restore power.
The Authority of Electric Energy and LUMA Energy, which operates Puerto
Rico’s power grid, continue to work on the islandwide power outage
affecting nearly 1.5 million customers, according to Pierluisi.
The blackout – which followed hours of progressively worsening power
outages – comes five years after Puerto Rico’s power grid was devastated
by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, leaving many residents without
electricity for months.
But officials have stressed it won’t be like last time: Not long before
the lights went out, Abner Gomez, head of public safety and crisis
management at LUMA Energy, said utility authorities plan to repair and
restore electricity with the help of local government agencies. “This is
not Maria, this hurricane will not be Maria,” Gomez said.
President Joe Biden on Sunday morning approved an emergency declaration
for Puerto Rico, freeing up federal resources, including the Federal
Emergency Management Agency, for emergency response and disaster relief
There are more than 300 FEMA responders on the ground working “hand and
glove” with the Commonwealth and their emergency management structure,
Anne Bink, FEMA’s Assistant Administrator for Response and Recovery, told
“Our heart goes out to the residents that are again going through another
catastrophic event five years later,” Bink said, noting Fiona has hit
close to Hurricane Maria’s five-year anniversary.
Bink said FEMA’s response is dual focused, including emergency generation
and power missions for critical facilities and ensuring command and
control structure is in place for things like search and rescue, emergency
power generations and long-term needs once the island moves into recovery.
Fiona’s winds are expected to increase along the immediate coastline,
while conditions are forecast to deteriorate throughout Sunday afternoon
and evening, according to the National Weather Service’s office in San
Already, authorities have responded to one landslide: Emergency officials
responded Saturday evening to a landslide around 8 p.m. ET at an apartment
complex in Guaynabo, according to fire and public safety officials. There
were no initial reports of injuries.
Around 120 shelters with 25,000 cots have been opened for those in need,
the governor said. Classes Monday have been canceled and government
workers – save emergency workers – should stay home, too.
A hurricane warning – indicating hurricane conditions are expected – was
issued for Puerto Rico, including the islands of Vieques and Culebra, and
later expanded to include the eastern Dominican Republic from Cabo Caucedo
to Cabo Frances Viejo. The Dominican Republic’s northern coast, from Cabo
Frances Viejo west to Puerto Plata, were under a hurricane watch Sunday
morning, meaning hurricane conditions are possible in the next 48 hours.
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