‘Fiona’ batters Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AFP) — Hurricane “Fiona” has smashed into Puerto Rico, knocking out the United States island territory’s power while dumping torrential rain and wreaking catastrophic damage before spinning off towards the Dominican Republic.

Landslides, blocked roads, fallen trees and power lines, as well as a collapsed bridge in the town of Utuado in the central mountainous region were among the destruction already levied by “Fiona,” Governor Pedro Pierluisi told a Sunday evening press conference.

The entire territory of more than three million people lost power as the hurricane neared, with Pierluisi reporting the electrical system out of service.

Although the hurricane’s eye is now off the territory’s coast, destructive rain and devastating flash floods are expected to buffet the islands overnight before hitting the Dominican Republic on Monday.
Ahead of Fiona’s arrival in the Dominican Republic, President Luis Abinader suspended work on Monday.

State of emergency

The storm has caused one fatality — a man who was killed after his house was swept away by flooding in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, when “Fiona” was still classified as a tropical storm.

US President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico on Sunday, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide assistance.

As of 0600 GMT, “Fiona” was carrying sustained maximum winds of 137 kilometers per hour toward the southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, the US National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory.

The NHC also said tropical storm conditions are expected in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas by late Monday or early Tuesday.

“Fiona” is expected to grow stronger, turning into a “major hurricane” before it heads north into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, according to the NHC.

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