Hurricane Fiona is strengthening into a Category 4 storm, moving toward Bermuda after battering Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands

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Hurricane Fiona evolved into a Category 4 storm on Wednesday after wreaking havoc Puerto Ricothen they whip Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands. It was predicted to squeeze past Bermuda on Thursday before reaching easternmost Canada late Friday.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said late Wednesday night that Fiona experienced maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour. It was centered about 550 miles southwest of Bermuda and traveling north at 10 miles per hour. Hurricane-force winds extended 70 miles from the center of the storm, while tropical winds reached 205 miles outward.

Fiona’s center is expected to pass west of Bermuda on Thursday evening, the NHC said, and approach Canada’s Atlantic provinces on Friday. It will move into the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday.

The US State Department had issued an advisory urging US citizens to “reconsider” travel to Bermuda.

The storm should not weaken until Friday.

“Little change in magnitude is expected through early Friday,” the NHC wrote. “Some weakening is expected to begin on Friday, but Fiona is expected to still produce hurricane-force winds on Friday evening and Saturday after it turns post-tropical.”

Bermuda could see 2 to 4 inches of rain from Fiona, the NHC said. When Fiona reaches Canada, it could bring Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and western Newfoundland between 3 and 6 inches of rain, while eastern Quebec could see 2 to 5 inches.

The storm has been blamed for directly causing at least four deaths as it marched through the Caribbean.

More than half a million people in Puerto Rico were left without a water supply Wednesday, and many spent hours waiting in lines to fill jugs from water trucks while others drew water from mountain runoff.

Damage from Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico
A woman looks at her water damaged belongings after Hurricane Fiona flooded her home in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. September 20, 2022.

Stephanie Rojas/AP


Sweat poured from people in a long line of cars in the northern mountain town of Caguas, where the government had sent a water truck, one of at least 18 so-called “oases” set up across the island.

The situation has been maddening for many on an island once again left without basic services after a storm.

“We thought we had a bad experience with Maria, but this was worse,” said Gerardo Rodríguez in the southern coastal town of Salinas, referring to the 2017 hurricane that killed nearly 3,000 and destroyed the island’s power grid.

Hundreds of thousands of people scraped mud from their homes after authorities dumped about two feet of rain on Puerto Rico after what authorities described as “historic” flooding.

Hurricane Fiona is visible on satellite imagery on September 21, 2022 at 9:30 am ET.
Hurricane Fiona is visible on satellite imagery on September 21, 2022 at 9:30 am ET.

NOAA


The storm devastated Puerto Rico’s power grid, which was repaired but never fully rebuilt after Hurricane Maria, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm five years ago, caused an 11-month power outage in some locations.

As of Wednesday afternoon, three days after Fiona reached the island, about 70% of Puerto Rican customers were without power, according to the government.

The National Weather Service issued a heat warning for San Juan because of the power outage.

The hum of generators could be heard across the area as people grew increasingly angry. Some were still trying to recover from Maria, causing death from an estimated 2,975 people.

“Hurricane Fiona severely impacted electrical infrastructure and power generation facilities across the island. We want to make it clear that recovery and resupply efforts are ongoing and are being impacted by severe flooding, impassable roads, downed trees, deteriorating equipment and downed lines. said Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi said Wednesday, “I continue to hope that by the end of today, a large portion of the population will have these services.”

Pierluisi too tweeted Wednesday afternoon that the federal government had approved a request for a Major Disaster Declaration in response to Fiona. Earlier on Wednesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the application was still under review. President Biden approved a declaration of emergency for the hurricane on Sunday.

FEMA chief Deanne Criswell traveled to Puerto Rico on Tuesday as the agency announced it would deploy hundreds of additional personnel to bolster local response efforts.

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

The storm killed a man in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, another man in Puerto Rico who was swept away by a swollen river, and two people in the Dominican Republic: one from a falling tree and the other from a falling power pole.

Two more deaths were reported in Puerto Rico as a result of the blackout: a 70-year-old man burned to death after trying to fill his running generator with gasoline, and a 78-year-old man is believed to have inhaled poison gases from his generator, police say.

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Luis Noguera, who helped clean up a landslide in the central mountain town of Cayey, said Maria left him without power for a year. The officials themselves declared the full return to service only 11 months after Maria was hit.

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

Long lines were reported at several gas stations across Puerto Rico, and some pulled off a main road to fetch water from a stream.

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

Hurricane Fiona hits Puerto Rico, knocking out power across the island
Workers remove fallen trees September 20, 2022 in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. The island experienced widespread power outages after Hurricane Fiona hit it hard.

Jose Jimenez/Getty Images


US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday he will push for the federal government to cover 100% of disaster relief costs — instead of the usual 75% — under an emergency disaster declaration.

“We have to make sure this time around that Puerto Rico has absolutely everything they need as soon as possible for as long as they need it,” he said.

Many Americans hadn’t heard from family members who didn’t have electricity.

Nancy Valentin, of Palm Beach County, Fla., told CBS News, “I haven’t been able to talk to my mom and see how she’s doing.”

At Boston’s Logan Airport, those arriving from Puerto Rico told of their fear of drowning in Fiona’s floodwaters.

Yolanda Rivera told CBS News, “We stayed in a room in a little corner that was safe, no light or nothing for a whole night. The place was so dark.”

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, officials reported minimal damage and no fatalities, although the storm’s eye passed near Grand Turk, the capital island of the small British territory, on Tuesday morning.

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

“The Turks and Caicos Islands have had a phenomenal experience over the past 24 hours,” Deputy Governor Anya Williams said. “It certainly came with its share of challenges.”





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