Politico

Fiona slams Dominican Republic after pounding Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Fiona roared over the Dominican Republic on Monday, a day after knocking out power to all of Puerto Rico and causing damage the governor described as “catastrophic.” Many people were also left without water service.

The blow from Fiona was made more devastating because Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island still have blue tarps for a roof.

The wind and water from Fiona stripped the pavement from roads, tore off roofs and sent torrents pouring into homes. The storm also took out a bridge and flooded an airport runway.

Authorities reported no deaths directly from Fiona, but Puerto Rico officials said it was too early to know the full scope of damage. The storm was still expected to unleash torrential rain across the U.S. territory.

Officials reported one death associated with the blackout — a 70-year-old man was burned to death when he tried to fill his generator with gasoline while it was running.

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi declined to say how long it would take to fully restore electricity, but said for most customers, “it’s a question of days”

The island’s National Weather Service office said flash flooding was occurring in south-central parts of Puerto Rico and tweeted, “MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY!”

Up to 22 inches (56 centimeters) of rain fell in some areas of Puerto Rico and forecasters said another 4 to 8 inches could fall as the storm moves away, with even more possible in some places.

Rain totals of up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) were projected for the eastern Dominican Republic, where authorities closed ports and beaches and told most people to stay home from work.

“It’s important people understand that this is not over,” said Ernesto Morales, a weather service meteorologist in San Juan.

He said flooding reached “historic levels,” with authorities evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across Puerto Rico.

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