Fiona threatens to become Category 4 storm headed to Bermuda

A man drives his Jeep through a flooded road in Toa Alta on September 20, 2022, two days after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico.

Pedro Portal | El Nuevo Herald | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Hurricane Fiona threatened to strengthen into a Category 4 storm on Wednesday as it battered the Turks and Caicos Islands and was forecast to pass Bermuda later this week.

The storm was responsible for at least four direct deaths in its march through the Caribbean, where it unleashed torrential rains on Puerto Rico, leaving the majority without power or water as officials said After that, millions of people swept away the mud from their homes. As a “historical” flood.

Power company officials initially said it would take a few days to fully restore power, but then appeared to back off late Tuesday night.

“Cyclone Fiona has severely affected power infrastructure and production facilities across the island. We want to make it very clear that recovery and reactivation efforts are ongoing and severe flooding, impassable roads, downed trees , deteriorating equipment, and affecting bottom lines,” said Loma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution.

The hum of generators could be heard across the island as people became increasingly agitated, some still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria, which hit as a Category 4 storm five years ago. An estimated 2,975 people were killed.

Luis Noguera, who was helping clean up landslides in the central mountain town of Cayey, said Maria left them without power for a year.

“We paid an electrician out of our own pocket to hook us up,” he recalled, adding that he didn’t think the government would help much again after Fiona.

Long lines were reported at several gas stations in Puerto Rico, and some pulled off a major highway to collect water from the river.

“We thought we had a bad experience with Maria, but it was worse,” said Gerardo Rodriguez, who lives in the southern coastal town of Salinas.

On Tuesday, more than 25 inches (64 cm) of rain fell in parts of the island and more.

By late Tuesday, officials said they had restored power to about 300,000 of the island’s 1.47 million customers, while water service had been shut off to more than 760,000 customers on the island as of yesterday. It is two-thirds.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency traveled to Puerto Rico on Tuesday as the agency announced it was sending hundreds of additional personnel to boost local response efforts.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency on the island and deployed two teams to the US mainland.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, authorities reported minimal damage and no casualties from the storm’s eye, despite passing close to the British territory’s tiny capital island of Grand Turk on Tuesday morning.

The government had imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-hit areas.

“Turks and Caicos has experienced an extraordinary past 24 hours,” said Deputy Gov. Anya Williams. “It has certainly come with its challenges.”

Late Tuesday night, Fiona was centered about 95 miles (155 km) north of the North Caicos Islands, with hurricane-force winds extending 30 miles (45 km) from the center. It had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h) and was moving north at 8 mph (13 km/h), according to the Hurricane Center, which said the storm is likely to strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane as it nears Bermuda on Friday.

The storm killed one person in the French Caribbean region of Guadeloupe, another in Puerto Rico who was swept away in a swollen river and two in the Dominican Republic: one killed by a falling tree and another by a downed lightning pole.

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