More than a million people in the Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic wake up without power or running water again on Thursday as crews work to repair critical supplies disabled by Hurricane Fiona – now a Category 4 monster headed for Bermuda.
The first major hurricane of this year’s Atlantic season has killed at least five people across the Caribbean: one in Guadeloupe, two in Puerto Rico and two in the Dominican Republic.
“This was something incredible that we have never seen before,” Ramona Santana in Higüey, Dominican Republic, told CNN en Español. “We are on the street with nothing, no food, no shoes, clothes, just what is on our back. … We have nothing. We have God and the hope that help will come.”
Now with sustained winds of 130 mph, Fiona’s center should pass just west of Bermuda early Friday, with conditions beginning to worsen Thursday, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. The island nation is under a hurricane warning; Americans are warned against traveling there, and relatives of US government personnel can leave, the State Department said.
“The National Hurricane Center is confident that Bermuda will experience tropical storm force winds,” Shackelford said. “As Fiona passes Bermuda, the storm is expected to impact Nova Scotia on Saturday afternoon.”
In the Canadian province, residents should prepare for tropical storm-like or even hurricane-like conditions starting as early as Friday night by securing outdoor items, trimming trees, charging cell phones and creating an emergency kit, said Jason Mew, director of emergency management. management office. Shelters will be open to those experiencing homelessness and anyone else in need, he said.
in the meantime, a developing storm ready to be named Hermine could become a monstrous threat to the US Gulf Coast next week, forecast models now show.
In Puerto Rico, where Fiona delivered flooding rains and an island-wide blackout when it made landfall Sunday, more than 450,000 people were without or had intermittent water supply, and 1 million homes and businesses were still without power Wednesday, according to the government emergency portal system.
In the Dominican Republic, where Fiona made landfall early Monday, more than a million customers were without running water and nearly 350,000 homes and businesses were dark Wednesday, said Maj. Gen. Juan Méndez García, director of the country’s emergency operations center.
More than 600 homes were destroyed and some communities were cut off from aid, he said.
When Fiona hit the Dominican Republic in the middle of the night, Iverice Viera rushed into waist-deep floodwaters to wake her neighbors in Higüey, she said.
She is now trying to dry out her belongings.
“The rooms are empty. I had to throw a lot away. There is no electricity or water to wash anything,” Viera told CNN en Español.
Puerto Rico, meanwhile, made some progress on the relief front: President Joe Biden on Wednesday approved a major disaster declaration for the U.S. territory, FEMA said. The move gives residents the opportunity to access grants for temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses.
“This ensures that our people will have access to additional assistance from FEMA to recover from the damage caused by this event,” Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi said in a tweet.
But crews have faced setbacks in restoring power. Equipment problems have temporarily knocked offline lines that are believed to have been repaired, Josué Colón, executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, said Wednesday.
Fiona hit almost exactly five years after Hurricane Maria plunged the island into an extended blackout.
Across the island, more than 800 people were housed Wednesday in dozens of shelters, according to Puerto Rico’s housing secretary, William Rodriguez.
New York’s mayor has deployed staff from city agencies to Puerto Rico to help officials survey damage.
“The team will include representatives from New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM), the New York City Department of Buildings, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York City Department of Design and Construction,” according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
Fiona also threatened parts of Turks and Caicos on Tuesday, and many areas of the British territory were still without power Wednesday, including Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, said Anya Williams, acting governor of the islands.
Officials were relieved no one was killed in the storm, they said, as they began visiting islands and making repairs.