Hurricane Fiona bears down on Dominican Republic after ripping across Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona bears down on Dominican Republic after ripping across Puerto Rico where it caused landslides, damaged homes and unleashed biblical floods – including one that swept an entire BRIDGE downstream

  • Hurricane Fiona is approaching the Dominican Republic having triggered life-threatening floods and mudslides in Puerto Rico throughout Sunday after making landfall during the afternoon 
  • Fiona is moving towards the eastern portion of Dominican Republic and likely to make landfall early Monday
  • The tropical storm was upgraded to hurricane status and hit Puerto Rico hard on Sunday afternoon
  • Officials say rains and floods are life-threatening rains as residents shutter their homes and prepare for worst 
  • President Joe Biden made an emergency declaration for the US territory to channel FEMA funds to the island
  • Puerto Rico’s electricity grid failed as the strong winds blew down power lines with the entire network remaining extremely fragile after Hurricane Maria in September 2017 and the largest blackout in U.S. history
  • Authorities say power is out across the island and unlikely to be restored for several days 

Hurricane Fiona bore down on the Dominican Republic on Monday after knocking out the power grid and unleashing floods and landslides in Puerto Rico, where the governor said the damage was ‘catastrophic.

Fiona was forecast to swipe the Dominican Republic early Monday and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain. It could threaten the far southern end of the Bahamas on Tuesday.

Hurricane warnings were posted for the Dominican Republic’s eastern coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo, and for the Turks and Caicos.

No deaths in Puerto Rico have been reported where vast amounts of damage is being reported across the island after Hurricane Fiona came ashore on Sunday afternoon.

A man with his son is seen on the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic, on Sunday as Hurricane Fiona heads ever closer

A man with his son is seen on the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic, on Sunday as Hurricane Fiona heads ever closer

A man walks on the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic, hours before Hurricane Fiona was due to strike

A man walks on the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic, hours before Hurricane Fiona was due to strike

People are seen at the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic. The government of the Dominican Republic suspended the working day on Monday due to the upcoming arrival of Hurricane Fiona

People are seen at the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic. The government of the Dominican Republic suspended the working day on Monday due to the upcoming arrival of Hurricane Fiona

Conditions were fast deteriorating on Sunday night as Hurricane Fiona drew ever-closer

Conditions were fast deteriorating on Sunday night as Hurricane Fiona drew ever-closer

Conditions were fast deteriorating on Sunday night as Hurricane Fiona drew ever-closer

It no day for the beach on Sunday as storm clouds drew ever-nearer and the winds began to whip up the waves

It no day for the beach on Sunday as storm clouds drew ever-nearer and the winds began to whip up the waves

It no day for the beach on Sunday as storm clouds drew ever-nearer and the winds began to whip up the waves

Authorities on the Dominican Republic issues a map showing eastern parts of the island to be most at risk from Fiona

Authorities on the Dominican Republic issues a map showing eastern parts of the island to be most at risk from Fiona

A man plays on the water at the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic hours before the hurricane was due to strike

A man plays on the water at the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic hours before the hurricane was due to strike

People are seen at the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic knowing their island is due to be struck by torrential wind and rain

People are seen at the beach in Nagua, Dominican Republic knowing their island is due to be struck by torrential wind and rain

One man is seen on the side of a jetty and flood defenses in the hours before Hurricane Fiona was due to hit

One man is seen on the side of a jetty and flood defenses in the hours before Hurricane Fiona was due to hit

Two people are seen fishing on the beach, in Nagua, Dominican Republic before Hurricane Fiona hits in the next few hours

Two people are seen fishing on the beach, in Nagua, Dominican Republic before Hurricane Fiona hits in the next few hours

A man uses a walker to walk along the shore of the beach, in Nagua, Dominican Republic. The effects of Fiona are expected to begin to be felt as of early Monday morning

A man uses a walker to walk along the shore of the beach, in Nagua, Dominican Republic. The effects of Fiona are expected to begin to be felt as of early Monday morning

Authorities in the U.S. territory said it was too early to estimate the damage from a storm that was still forecast to unleash torrential rain across Puerto Rico on Monday. Up to 30 inches was forecast for Puerto Rico’s eastern and southern regions.

‘It’s important people understand that this is not over,’ said Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

He said flooding has reached ‘historic levels,’ with authorities evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across the island.

‘The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,’ said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

This was a brand new metal bridge installed after Hurricane Maria in the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico

This was a brand new metal bridge installed after Hurricane Maria in the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico

Such was the strength of the water, the entire contsruction was simply washed away down river

Such was the strength of the water, the entire contsruction was simply washed away down river

The massive metal bridge could be seen floating downstream as floods lifted it from its foundations on Sunday afternoon

The massive metal bridge could be seen floating downstream as floods lifted it from its foundations on Sunday afternoon 

Residents couldn't believe their eyes as the bridge simply floated away

Residents couldn’t believe their eyes as the bridge simply floated away  

One Twitter user captured this raging torrent of water sweeping through Pueblo de Naranjito

One Twitter user captured this raging torrent of water sweeping through Pueblo de Naranjito

A home is submerged in floodwaters caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico

A home is submerged in floodwaters caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico

Brown water rushed through streets, into homes and even consumed a runway airport in southern Puerto Rico.

Roads were turned into raging torrents as Fiona also ripped up asphalt from roads and washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017 as a Category 5 storm.

The storm also ripped off the roofs of several homes, including that of Nelson Cirino in the northern coastal town of Loiza.

‘I was sleeping and saw when the corrugated metal flew off,’ he said as he observed how the rain drenched his belonging.

Ada Vivian Román, a 21-year-old photography student, said the storm knocked down trees and fences in her hometown of Toa Alta.

‘I´m actually very anxious because it’s a really slow-moving hurricane,’ she said.

She said she is also worried about whether the public transportation she relies on to get to her job at a public relations agency will be operating by the time she has to go back to the office.

The water was seen flowing along at quite a rate of speed. Forecasters are predicting up to 30 inches of rain to fall in total

The water was seen flowing along at quite a rate of speed. Forecasters are predicting up to 30 inches of rain to fall in total

People look at a flooded road during the passing of Hurricane Fiona through Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

People look at a flooded road during the passing of Hurricane Fiona through Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

A road is flooded by the rains of Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico with landslides still a huge risk to life

A road is flooded by the rains of Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico with landslides still a huge risk to life

People clean debris from a road after a mudslide caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, Sunday, September 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Stephanie Rojas)

People clean debris from a road after a mudslide was caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, on Sunday

A road blocked is blocked by a mudslide caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

A road blocked is blocked by a mudslide caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

A river swollen with rain caused by Hurricane Fiona speeds through Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

A river swollen with rain caused by Hurricane Fiona speeds through Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

Several people were tripped inside this house which now stands in what looks to be the middle of a raging river

Several people were tripped inside this house which now stands in what looks to be the middle of a raging river

‘But I know that I’m privileged compared with other families who are practically losing their homes because they are under water,’ she said.

Fiona was centered 50 miles southeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with maximum sustained winds of 85mph on Sunday night, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 9 mph.

It hit on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into the island in 1989 as a Category 3 storm.

As authorities continue to assess the damage from Fiona, many wondered when power would be restored.

‘That’s probably the worst damage there is,’ said Tomás Rivera, who co-owns a hotel in the southwest coastal town of El Combate.

Rivera said his employees brought bedridden family members to the hotel, where he has stocked up on diesel, gasoline, food, water and ice, given how slowly the government responded after Hurricane Maria. 

President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner. Puerto Rico’s ports have been closed and flights out of the main airport canceled.

People clean a house flooded by the rains of Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

People clean a house flooded by the rains of Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

Flooding in the town of Maunabo, Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Fiona

Flooding in the town of Maunabo, Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Fiona

People shelter underneath an overpass as Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Ponce, Puerto Rico

People shelter underneath an overpass as Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Ponce, Puerto Rico

A member of the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) monitors the trajectory of Hurricane Fiona in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Sunday

A member of the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) monitors the trajectory of Hurricane Fiona in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Sunday

The Mamey river flooded houses in Patillas, Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona came ashore

The Mamey river flooded houses in Patillas, Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona came ashore

People shelter underneath an overpass as Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon

People shelter underneath an overpass as Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Ponce, Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon 

Strong river current destroyed a brand new metal bridge installed post Hurracane Maria in Salto Alto, in the town of Utuado

Strong river current destroyed a brand new metal bridge installed post Hurracane Maria in Salto Alto, in the town of Utuado

A worker cuts an electricity pole that was downed by Hurricane Fiona as it blocks a road in Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

A worker cuts an electricity pole that was downed by Hurricane Fiona as it blocks a road in Cayey, Puerto Rico on Sunday

A man jumps into an all terrain vehicle as Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Ponce, Puerto Rico bringing torrential rain

A man jumps into an all terrain vehicle as Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Ponce, Puerto Rico bringing torrential rain

Roads were turned into rivers. There is no sign of a metal bridge that once stood at this point

Roads were turned into rivers. There is no sign of a metal bridge that once stood at this point 

Three people inside a house await rescue from the floods caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico

Three people inside a house await rescue from the floods caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico

A man walks on a road flooded by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, on Sunday

A man walks on a road flooded by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, on Sunday

A man walk past an electricity pole that was damaged by Hurricane Fiona in Yauco, Puerto Rico on Sunday

A man walk past an electricity pole that was damaged by Hurricane Fiona in Yauco, Puerto Rico on Sunday

The emergency declaration authorizes Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide emergency protective measures, the White House explained.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said agency officials deployed to Puerto Rico will assist with restoration efforts ‘as it becomes safe to do so.’ Fiona was at hurricane strength as torrential rains deluged the Caribbean.

The blackout that Hurricane Maria caused was blamed for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people in the storm´s sweltering aftermath, with power in some neighborhoods not restored until a year later. Maria was a devastating Category 5 storm that struck on September 20, 2017.

The entire island is once again without electricity plunging the island’s population of about 3.2 million people into a total blackout overnight. The ferocious wind ripped roofs from homes whilst the heavy rain also caused landslides.

Fiona hit about 15 miles south-southeast of Mayaguez with maximum sustained winds of 85mph, according to the US National Hurricane Centre. It was moving to the north-west at 9mph.

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines on Sunday, leading to ‘a blackout on all the island.’

Health centers were running on generators – and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews rushed to repair generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, where several patients had to be evacuated.

More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak, including the power grid. Outages remain common, and reconstruction started only recently.

A gas station sign damaged by Hurricane Fiona lies on the ground in Yauco, Puerto Rico

A gas station sign damaged by Hurricane Fiona lies on the ground in Yauco, Puerto Rico

A car sits in flood waters after Hurricane Fiona affected the area in Yauco, Puerto Rico

A car sits in flood waters after Hurricane Fiona affected the area in Yauco, Puerto Rico

People clear a road from a fallen tree after Hurricane Fiona affected the area in Yauco, Puerto Rico

People clear a road from a fallen tree after Hurricane Fiona affected the area in Yauco, Puerto Rico

The storm’s clouds covered the entire island and tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 140 miles from Fiona’s centre. 

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi tweeted at about 2pm on Sundaythat ‘the electrical system is currently out of service. Protocols have been activated according to plans established to address this situation.’ 

Pierluisi also announced on Sunday that public schools and government agencies would remain closed on Monday. 

‘The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,’ he said. 

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to ‘a blackout on all the island’.

‘Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering our capacity to evaluate the complete situation,’ it said, adding that it could take several days to fully restore power.

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

‘This has been catastrophic,’ Pierluisi said at the news conference. ‘We are responding to the emergency as weather conditions permit.

Health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews were working to repair generators as soon as possible at the Comprehensive Cancer Centre. 

The metal crash barrier at the side of the road was simply stripped away like spaghetti, such was the strength of the storm

Moments later, the crash barrier was nowhere to be seen having been pulled into the river

The metal crash barrier at the side of the road was simply stripped away like spaghetti, such was the strength of the storm 

A worker of the Loiza municipality calls on residents to evacuate due to imminent flooding due to the rains of Hurricane Fiona

A worker of the Loiza municipality calls on residents to evacuate due to imminent flooding due to the rains of Hurricane Fiona

A flooded road is seen during the passing of hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico

A flooded road is seen during the passing of hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico

A man stands near a flooded road during the passing of Hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico. Fiona touched Puerto Rico at 3:20pm local time  according to the United States National Hurricane Center

A man stands near a flooded road during the passing of Hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico. Fiona touched Puerto Rico at 3:20pm local time  according to the United States National Hurricane Center

Nelson Cirino sees his bedroom after the winds of hurricane Fiona tore the roof off his house in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Sunday

Nelson Cirino sees his bedroom after the winds of hurricane Fiona tore the roof off his house in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Sunday

A woman and her dog take refuge in a shelter from Hurricane Fiona in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Sunday

A woman and her dog take refuge in a shelter from Hurricane Fiona in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Sunday

Nelson Cirino's home stands with its roof torn off by the winds of Hurricane Fiona in Loiza, Puerto Rico

Nelson Cirino’s home stands with its roof torn off by the winds of Hurricane Fiona in Loiza, Puerto Rico

A person takes refuge in a school due to the passage of Hurricane Fiona, in San Juan, Puerto Rico

A person takes refuge in a school due to the passage of Hurricane Fiona, in San Juan, Puerto Rico

‘I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, `What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?´’ said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.

He said the atmosphere was gloomy at the supermarket as he and others stocked up before the storm hit.

‘After Maria, we all experienced scarcity to some extent,’ he said.

The storm pummeled cities and towns along Puerto Rico´s southern coast that have not yet fully recovered from a string of strong earthquakes starting in late 2019.

More than 1,000 people with some 80 pets had sought shelter across the island by Sunday night, the majority of them in the southern coast.

A woman salvages her belongings from her flooded house during the passage of hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico

A woman salvages her belongings from her flooded house during the passage of hurricane Fiona in Villa Blanca, Puerto Rico

The Atlantic ocean from La Perla is seen during the passage of Hurricane Fiona, in San Juan

The Atlantic ocean from La Perla is seen during the passage of Hurricane Fiona, in San Juan

Signs were almost completely blown from their foundations as the wind blew at speeds of up to 85mph

Signs were almost completely blown from their foundations as the wind blew at speeds of up to 85mph

Huge waves could be seen washing ashore in San Juan on Sunday afternoon

Huge waves could be seen washing ashore in San Juan on Sunday afternoon 

Puerto Rico Fire Department attends a landslide in the residential area of  Guaynabo

Puerto Rico Fire Department attends a landslide in the residential area of  Guaynabo

One landslide saw an entire home collapse and fall down a hillside in Guaynabo

One landslide saw an entire home collapse and fall down a hillside in Guaynabo

Joeni Rodriguez meets with her neighbors at the door of her house, after losing power due to the hurricane

Joeni Rodriguez meets with her neighbors at the door of her house, after losing power due to the hurricane

People who were evacuated from their homes are seen in a class room of a public school turned shelter as the storm reached the island

People who were evacuated from their homes are seen in a class room of a public school turned shelter as the storm reached the island

Firefighters work to remove a fallen tree from the road in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico as strong winds threaten to rip apart the island

Firefighters work to remove a fallen tree from the road in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico as strong winds threaten to rip apart the island

A satellite shows Hurricane Fiona in the Caribbean on Sunday .The eye of newly formed Hurricane Fiona is near the coast of Puerto Rico - and it has already sparked an island-wide blackout and threatens to dump "historic" levels of rain

A satellite shows Hurricane Fiona in the Caribbean on Sunday .The eye of newly formed Hurricane Fiona is near the coast of Puerto Rico – and it has already sparked an island-wide blackout and threatens to dump ‘historic’ levels of rain

Te entire of Puerto Rico island appears engulfed by the hurricane on Sunday afternoon

Te entire of Puerto Rico island appears engulfed by the hurricane on Sunday afternoon

P​hotos showed damaged buildings and flooded cars in Ponce, about 34 miles east of where Fiona made landfall.

‘These rains will produce life-threatening flash flooding and urban flooding across Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic, along with mudslides and landslides in areas of higher terrain,’ the Nation Hurricane Center said. 

‘I urge people to stay in their homes,’ said William Miranda Torres, mayor of the northern town of Caguas, where at least one large landslide was reported, with water rushing down a big slab of broken asphalt and into a gully. 

Authorities have opened about 80 shelters and closed beaches and casinos, and residents were urged to seek shelter.

The storm was forecast to pummel cities and towns along Puerto Rico´s southern coast that are still recovering from a string of strong earthquakes that hit the region starting in late 2019, with several schools still shuttered and debris to be removed.

Residents attach protective plywood to a window of their home in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Fiona, in Loiza, Puerto Rico

Residents attach protective plywood to a window of their home in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Fiona, in Loiza, Puerto Rico

Jetsabel Osorio stands in her house damaged five years ago by Hurricane Maria before the arrival of Hurricane Fiona

Jetsabel Osorio stands in her house damaged five years ago by Hurricane Maria before the arrival of Hurricane Fiona

Officials also reported several road closures across the island as trees and small landslides blocked access.

Ahead of the hurricane’s arrival, people boarded up windows and stocked up on food and water. 

Fiona hit just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 5 storm that struck on September 20, 2017, destroying the island’s power grid and causing nearly 3,000 deaths.

More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak.

‘What we´ve done is prepared ourselves to depend as little as possible on the central government,’ he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by 70-year-old Ana Córdova, who arrived Saturday at a shelter in the north coastal town of Loiza after buying loads of food and water.

‘I don’t trust them,’ she said, referring to the government. ‘I lost trust after what happened after Hurricane Maria.’

Denise Rios, who lives in the southwestern town of Hormigueros, said she was left without power following a strong gust 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.’

Nelson Cirino secures the windows of his home as the winds of Hurricane Fiona blow in Loiza, Puerto Rico

Nelson Cirino secures the windows of his home as the winds of Hurricane Fiona blow in Loiza, Puerto Rico

Residents prepare for the arrival of  Hurricane Fiona, in Loiza, Puerto Rico on Saturday

Residents prepare for the arrival of  Hurricane Fiona, in Loiza, Puerto Rico on Saturday

A man stands in front of a beach before the arrival of Hurricane Fiona in San Juan

A man stands in front of a beach before the arrival of Hurricane Fiona in San Juan

Fiona was forecast to swipe past the Dominican Republic on Monday and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain. It could threaten the far southern end of the Bahamas on Tuesday.

A hurricane warning was posted for the Dominican Republic’s eastern coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away in the Basse-Terre district, officials said. 

France will recognize a state of natural disaster for Guadeloupe, President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter on Sunday. 

The storm also damaged roads, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one bridge.

Roads were flooded on Guadeloupe and there appeared to be some damage to vegetation

Roads were flooded on Guadeloupe and there appeared to be some damage to vegetation

A September 17 photo shows the aftermath of the Fiona storm in Capesterre-Belle-Eau, on the French island of Guadeloupe

A September 17 photo shows the aftermath of the Fiona storm in Capesterre-Belle-Eau, on the French island of Guadeloupe

A cyclist rides his bike in a flooded street due to the passage of the Fiona storm in Capesterre-Belle-Eau, on the French island of Guadeloupe

A cyclist rides his bike in a flooded street due to the passage of the Fiona storm in Capesterre-Belle-Eau, on the French island of Guadeloupe

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