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Hurricane Fiona: Many in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic remain without power or running water as storm heads for Bermuda




CNN

More than a million people in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic wake up again without power or running water on Thursday as crews work to repair critical utilities disabled by Hurricane Fiona – now a Category 4 monster heading to Bermuda.

The first major hurricane of this year’s Atlantic season killed at least five people in the Caribbean: one in Guadeloupe, two in Puerto Rico and two in the Dominican Republic.

FIONA TRACKING

“It was something incredible that we had never seen before,” Ramona Santana in Higüey, Dominican Republic, told CNN en Español. “We are on the streets with nothing, no food, no shoes, no clothes, just what’s on our backs. … We have nothing. We have God, and the help of hope will come.

Now with sustained winds of 130 mph, central Fiona is expected to pass just west of Bermuda early Friday, with conditions beginning to deteriorate Thursday, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. The island nation is under a hurricane warning; Americans are warned not to go there and relatives of US government personnel may leave, the State Department said.

“The National Hurricane Center is certain that Bermuda will experience tropical storm-force winds,” Shackelford said. “Once Fiona passes through Bermuda, the storm is expected to hit Nova Scotia by Saturday afternoon.”

In the Canadian province, residents should prepare for tropical storm or even hurricane-like conditions as early as Friday night by securing outdoor objects, trimming trees, charging cell phones and creating an emergency kit, said Jason Mew, emergency manager. management office. Shelters will be opened for homeless people and anyone else in need, he said.

Meanwhile, a developing storm about to be called Hermine could become a monstrous threat to the US Gulf Coast by next week, forecast models show.

In Puerto Rico, where Fiona caused torrential rains and an island-wide blackout as it made landfall on Sunday, more than 450,000 people lacked or had intermittent water service, and 1 million homes and businesses were still without power on Wednesday, according to the government’s emergency portal system.

In the Dominican Republic, where Fiona moved early Monday, more than a million customers had no running water and nearly 350,000 homes and businesses were in darkness on Wednesday, Major General Juan Méndez García said. , director of the country’s emergency operations center.

More than 600 homes have been destroyed and some communities have been cut off from aid, he said.

As Fiona hit the Dominican Republic in the middle of the night, Iverice Viera rushed through waist-deep floodwaters to wake her neighbors in Higüey, she said.

She is now trying to dry her things.

“The rooms are empty. I had to throw away a lot. There is no electricity or water to wash anything,” Viera told CNN en Español.

Puerto Rico, meanwhile, was making progress on the relief front: President Joe Biden on Wednesday approved a major disaster declaration for the US territory, FEMA said. The move allows residents 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 statement. Tweeter.

But crews faced setbacks to restore power. Equipment problems temporarily interrupted offline lines that have reportedly been repaired, Josué Colón, executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, said Wednesday.

Fiona struck almost exactly five years after Hurricane Maria plunged the island into a prolonged blackout.

Across the island, more than 800 people were housed Wednesday in dozens of shelters, according to Puerto Rico Housing Secretary William Rodriguez.

The mayor of New York has deployed personnel from city agencies to Puerto Rico to help officials assess the 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 Department of New York City’s design and construction,” according to a press release. of town hall.

Cars drive under a downed utility pole in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

Fiona also threatened parts of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, and many areas of British territory were still without power on Wednesday, including Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, said Anya Williams, Governor by ai of the islands.

Officials there were relieved no one was killed in the storm, they said as they began visiting the islands and carrying out repairs.



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