Hurricane Fiona Moves to The Dominican Republic, Majority of Puerto Rico Still Without Power

September 19, 2022

By: Mariah Fritz

The Dominican Republic was hit by Hurricane Fiona early Monday after it had ripped through Puerto Rico with heaving rain, lethal flooding, and an island-wide power outage, according to CNN.

The Category 1 hurricane, as reported by the National Hurricane Center, appeared near Boca de Yuma at 3:30 a.m “with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph”. The storm is slowly moving in the northwest direction and is still flooding Puerto Rico, where CNN says that “more than 1.4 million people are without power.”

At least one death has been reported so far in “the heavily-damaged city” of Basse-Terre, the capital of the French territory of Guadeloupe. On Sunday afternoon, the hurricane reached the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico with winds up to 75 miles per hour and 6-24 inches of rainfall in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

Fiona will continue to hit Puerto Rico and the eastern parts of the Dominican Republic into Monday. The National Hurricane Center reported that eastern areas of the Dominican Republic may see flooding and landslides and mudslides in areas of higher altitude. The hurricane has the potential to bring up to 30 inches of rain to Puerto Rico and 12 inches to the eastern and northern parts of the Dominican Republic.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the forecast predicts the hurricane will build strength after passing the Dominican Republic and is expected to hit Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas on Monday and Tuesday. A hurricane warning and tropical storm watch have already been issued for the people of the Turks and Caicos and the southern Bahamas.

LUMA Energy, the main power utility in Puerto Rico, said in a statement Sunday that it could take several days before the power is restored, stating "several transmission line outages" are contributing to the blackout. Governor Pedro Pierluisi said in a Facebook post that the process will be done “gradually”. reported that LUMA had "reenergized some circuits, however there is limited information, and no numbers on how many customers have been restored.”

Puerto Rico suffered life-threatening flood conditions, with one local capturing a video of the flood's water crashing and tearing apart a bridge, then carrying the structure downstream.

According to CNN, President Joe Biden “approved an emergency declaration early Sunday to provide federal assistance to disaster relief efforts.” Over 300 FEMA emergency workers were on the ground to respond to the crisis. 

FEMA’s Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery, Anne Bink, told CNN: "Our heart goes out to the residents that again are going through another catastrophic event five years later," adding that FEMA plans to learn from previous experience of the 2017 crisis. 

"We were much more prepared. We have four warehouses now strategically located throughout the island, which includes commodities, exponentially larger supplies than in the past," Bink continued. "We're proactively there -- and well ahead of any storm hitting -- to make sure that we are coordinating. And all of the planning efforts we undertake during those blue skies days can be brought to bear when the rain falls."