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Puerto Rico has sustained catastrophic damage from Hurricane Fiona : NPR

Heard on All Things Considered

Enrique Rivera

Hurricane Fiona has passed through Puerto Rico, causing mass floods and mudslides and leaving most of the island without electricity. Puerto Ricans dealing with the fallout describe the situation.


The extent of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Fiona is now becoming clearer across parts of the Caribbean. We are going to focus on Puerto Rico, where very few parts of the island have been spared, starting on the north side of the island.

MARCOS CRUZ MOLINA: (Through interpreter) We have mudslides. We have floods, many fallen trees. Right now, the whole community is without electricity, and there’s a considerable amount of people without water.


That’s Marcos Cruz Molina, the mayor of Vega Baja, a small town about 30 miles west of San Juan. Even though his city has dealt with severe hurricane damage before, this time is not proving to be any easier.

CRUZ MOLINA: (Through interpreter) Well, it’s similar to what happened with Hurricane Maria, especially in regards to the flooding. And it’s really distressing.

KELLY: Down in Puerto Rico’s central mountainous region, some people woke up to streets that looked more like rushing rivers. Twenty-five-year-old old Fernando Vera (ph) lives in the town of Utuado. As he thinks about what recovery could look like this time, he is also haunted by the impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017. That damage forced him and his family out of their home for two months.

FERNANDO VERA: It was literally, like, as if the mountain exploded, and all the mountain just laid over the top of the road. When we got notice of Fiona, we decided to stay at our uncle’s house. And we’re currently worried about the conditions we’re going to find our home after all this ends.

SUMMERS: And rain continues to fall across Puerto Rico, and the streets keep flooding. Again, Vega Baja Mayor Marcos Cruz Molina.

CRUZ MOLINA: (Through interpreter) Right now, what we’re doing is clearing the streets, investigating the community’s needs so that they can be addressed in the most efficient way and providing food to the most disadvantaged sectors.

KELLY: It’s still not clear how many communities across Puerto Rico sustained serious, even catastrophic damage from Hurricane Fiona. Those assessments will take some time.

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Hurricane Fiona heads to Bermuda, up to 8 dead in Puerto Rico

  • Hurricane Fiona strengthened to a Category 4 storm as it heads towards Bermuda.
  • An estimated 1.07 million homes and businesses remained without power in Puerto Rico.
  • Michelle Pitcher, deputy director of the Bermuda Weather Service, says that Bermuda’s lack of protective shores leaves the island at higher risk of severe flooding.

People walk on a street affected by the passing of Hurricane Fiona in Penuelas, Puerto Rico September 19, 2022.

Ricardo Arduengo | Reuters

Hurricane Fiona strengthened to a powerful Category 4 storm on Wednesday as it headed toward Bermuda after carving a destructive path through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where the storm left most people without power and up to eight dead.

After making landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday, Fiona caused devastating flooding and landslides on the island. Over the next two days, the storm gathered steam as it barreled into the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Fiona packed winds as high as 130 miles per hour (215 km per hour) on Wednesday and was expected to strengthen as it moved north toward Bermuda, though no direct hit is forecast for the British territory, the U. S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Fiona could reach Canada’s Atlantic coast on Friday.

Eric Blake, acting branch chief for the NHC in Miami, said Bermuda would see high surf, storm surges, heavy rainfall and powerful winds even if Fiona kept on its current path and passed to the west of the island. Bermuda will see the worst of the storm by late Thursday, the NHC said.

«Hopefully, the core of the storm will stay west, but it could still jog east and hit Bermuda,» Blake said, adding that the U.S. East Coast would experience large swells and rip currents as the storm churns toward Canada.

«This will be a big deal up there,» he told Reuters, referring to Fiona’s track toward Canada’s Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

In Puerto Rico, where 40% of the island’s 3.3 million residents were still without water and three-fourths were lacking power, authorities were trying to determine the scale of the destruction and start rebuilding.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday approved a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico, which makes federal funding available for individuals affected by the storm, the White House said in a statement.

Fiona might have caused at least eight deaths, including that of a sick 4-month-old infant whose mother struggled to get to the hospital due to blocked roads, Dr. Maria Conte Miller, director of the Institute of Forensic Sciences, said in at roundtable on Tuesday. The deaths are under investigation.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has so far attributed four deaths to the storm in Puerto Rico. A fifth person was killed in Guadeloupe earlier in the week.

For many Puerto Rico residents, the memory of Hurricane Maria in 2017 is still fresh. Some 3,000 people died in that Category 5 storm, which left the entire island without electricity for a week.

Marylou Maldonado, 45, a saleswoman from the town of Camuy in northwestern Puerto Rico, said water was restored to her residence on Tuesday, but that the governor and energy provider failed to fulfill their promise to restore power to her region.

«People are under a lot of stress,» she said. «Here in this area, the crisis is emotional. It is emotional because of the frustration of not having electricity and that we are being lied to.»

watch now

An estimated 1.07 million homes and businesses remained without power in Puerto Rico by midday on Wednesday, according to LUMA Energy, which has said full restoration to all 1.5 million customers could take several days.

The Bermuda Weather Service has issued a tropical storm warning for the British territory, 600 miles (966 km) east of the U.S. state of North Carolina. Hurricane-force winds are a possibility depending on the storm’s path, it said.

Michelle Pitcher, deputy director of the service, said the country is «like a point sticking up out of the ocean» that had no protective shores, meaning severe flooding was more of a danger.

Even so, Pitcher said, Bermuda is ready for what Fiona has in store for the island.

«Bermuda residents are very well practiced in preparing for storms,» she said. «We build strong houses.»



Weather in Puerto Rico on the map — Online weather on the map in Puerto Rico (Provincia de Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain) >

  • Puerto Rico
  • Now in Puerto Rico



    no precipitation

    Visibility: 20 km.

    1 m/s (gusts up to 3 m/s). light breeze, north, northeast

    Pressure: 750 mmHg

    Humidity: 76%

    UV Index: 0 (low)

    Sunrise: 07:29
    Sunset: 19:01

    Day 7
    Visibility 50%

    Weather in major and nearby cities

    • ст. Видимость: 20 км. УФ-индекс: 0 »> Madrid0°
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    • Las Palmas de Gran Canaria+16°
    • ст. Видимость: 20 км. УФ-индекс: 0 »> Dakhla+17°
    • Funchal °

    • Guelmin+12°
    • Agadir+13°
    • 1 °C Осадки: без осадков Облачность: ясно Ветер: легкий ветер, северо-восточный, 3 м/с Влажность: 78 % Давление: 741 мм рт.ст. Видимость: 20 км. УФ-индекс: 0 »> Mogan+16°
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    • 6 .. +16.1 °C Осадки: без осадков Облачность: ясно Ветер: слабый ветер, северный, 4 м/с Влажность: 83 % Давление: 733 мм рт.ст. Видимость: 20 км. УФ-индекс: 0 »> Santa Lucia de Tirajana+15°
    • San Nicolas del Puerto+15°
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    • 4 .. +15.7 °C Осадки: без осадков Облачность: ясно Ветер: слабый ветер, северный,северо-восточный, 4 м/с Влажность: 82 % Давление: 730 мм рт.ст. Видимость: 20 км. УФ-индекс: 0 »> Artenara+14 °
    • Aguiz+15 °
    • Valsekilo de Granaria+13 °
    • 2 .. +16.5 °C Осадки: без осадков Облачность: ясно Ветер: слабый ветер, северный, 5 м/с Влажность: 82 % Давление: 739 мм рт.ст. Видимость: 20 км. УФ-индекс: 0 »> Inkhenio+15 °
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