Hurricane Fiona leaves Puerto Rico without power to 3.3 million

At a news conference in the capital San Juan on Sunday night, LUMA spokesperson Abner Gomez said the entire electrical system had been shut down to protect its infrastructure. Some power was being restored, with priority given to hospitals and other critical community services, he said.

Several landslides had been reported, officials said. Roads were closed and a highway bridge in Utuado, a town in the centre of the island, had been washed away by a flooding river. Puerto Rico’s ports were closed and flights out of the main airport cancelled.

Jetsabel Osorio stands in her house damaged five years ago by Hurricane Maria before the arrival of Hurricane Fiona in Loiza, Puerto Rico.Credit:AP

Torrential rains and mudslides were also forecast for the Dominican Republic as the storm progresses northwestward, with the Turks and Caicos Islands likely facing tropical storm conditions on Tuesday, the NHC said.

By Sunday night, aid agencies in the Dominican Republic began evacuating residents from high-risk areas in the east of the country. President Luis Abinader, the Dominican leader, postponed a trip to New York to participate in the United Nations General Assembly, while the start of the Dominican school year was pushed back to Wednesday from Monday.

US President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico on Sunday, authorising the Federal Emergency Management Agency to co-ordinate disaster relief and provide emergency protective measures.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said agency officials deployed to Puerto Rico would assist with restoration efforts “as it becomes safe to do so”.

Denise Rios, who lives in the southwestern town of Hormigueros, said she was left without power following strong gusts of wind and rain that began around noon on Sunday.

“Since then it hasn’t stopped,” she said. “It is raining heavily and the wind is blowing hard. I’m calm, but alert.”

A wide swathe of Puerto Rico was forecast to get 30cm to 40cm of rain, while parts could be hit by up to 63cm, according to the NHC.

Authorities opened more than 100 shelters and closed beaches and casinos.

One death tied to Fiona has been reported so far, in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Authorities said a man was found dead on Saturday after his house was swept away by floods. France will recognise a state of natural disaster for Guadeloupe, President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter on Sunday.

Reuters

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