Hurricane Fiona hits Dominican Republic Puerto Rico mostly without power Reuters

© Reuters FILE PHOTO: People clear a path of fallen trees after Hurricane Fiona damaged the area in Yaco, Puerto Rico, September 18, 2022.

By Ivelise Rivera and Ezequiel Abio Lopez

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico/Santo Domingo (Reuters) – Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the Dominican Republic on Monday, bracing Puerto Rico for another day of heavy rains and life-threatening flooding, a U.S. government agency said, a day after the island was hit by widespread power outages.

The Dominican Republic is being hit with “very heavy rain” and winds of up to 90 miles per hour, said Eric Blake of the US National Hurricane Center as the storm in Puerto Rico begins to cool.

Five years after Hurricane Maria hit the US Caribbean territory, Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon.

“Tomorrow will be drier than today, but today will be a long day,” Blake, acting branch chief of the NHC’s Hurricane Specialist Division, said of Puerto Rico. “The strongest winds are dying and have already reached the Dominican Republic.”

Despite emergency repairs after Hurricane Maria caused the largest blackout in U.S. history in September 2017, Puerto Rico’s power grid remains fragile, according to the Puerto Rico think tank Center for a New Economy.

In that Category 5 storm, which killed more than 3,000 people, 1.5 million customers lost power with 80% of power lines down. Thousands of Puerto Ricans still live under makeshift roofs.

Fiona’s eye made landfall near Boca Yuma in the Dominican Republic at 3:30 a.m., the NHC said. It is the first cyclone to make a direct attack on the country since Jain devastated the eastern part of the country in September 2018. The Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispanola with Haiti.

Fiona brought down trees, power lines and billboards in Punta Cana, La Romana and El Ceibo in the eastern Dominican Republic early Monday. Aid groups said there were no reports of injuries.

According to Juan Salas, director of the country’s civil protection office, about 800 people in rural communities in the east have been evacuated from vulnerable areas and near rivers and valleys.

Juan Manuel Mendez, director of the Dominican Emergency Operations Center, warned that the eye of the storm will move away from the Dominican Republic after Monday, but rain could continue for two days. reported that nearly 90% of Puerto Rico’s power remained out Monday. Officials said it would take days to reconnect the island of 3.3 million people.

Rain bands could follow the storm system for hundreds of miles east of Puerto Rico, NHC’s Blake said. The National Weather Service lifted its tornado warning for the US state on Monday morning.

However, as some areas could receive up to 10 inches of rain, officials advised residents in the southern and western parts of the island to seek higher ground.

US President Joe Biden on Sunday approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster response and provide emergency response measures.

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