Hurricane Fiona reaches Category 4 as it moves north, leaving disaster-stricken areas


Water is the top concern for residents like Carlos Vega, whose town of Cayey in the mountains of east-central Puerto Rico faced not only utility outages but also partially collapsed roads — an effect of the major flooding and more than 2 feet of rain that parts of Puerto Rico were hit with.

“(Being without) power … we can face that and we can deal with that. The biggest concern is with our water. Can’t live without water,” Vega told CNN on Tuesday.

Fiona also whipped parts of the Turks and Caicos islands on Tuesday with sustained winds of almost 125 mph, officials said. That left many areas without power, including on Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, said Anya Williams, the deputy governor of the islands.

A fallen palm tree lies in the Ports of Call Resort entrance in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.

No deaths or serious injuries had been reported in Turks and Caicos as of Tuesday evening, Williams said.

Fiona’s flooding especially left critical infrastructure damage in Puerto Rico and then the Dominican Republic, which the storm crossed Monday. More than 1 million utility customers in the Dominican Republic had no water service as of Wednesday morning, and more than 349,000 customers were without power, according to Maj. Gen. Juan Méndez García, director of the country’s emergency operations center.

The power outages come as parts of the Caribbean face stifling heat. Heat indices — what the air feels like when combining temperature and humidity — of 105 to 109 degrees are expected Wednesday in north-central, northwestern and western portions of Puerto Rico, the National Weather Service said.

The landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday came nearly five years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, leaving thousands dead and cutting power to and water service to more than 1 million people for what would become months.

Storm presses north and could threaten Bermuda and Atlantic Canada

Fiona, after its center passed the Turks and Caicos as a Category 3 storm, strengthened to Category 4 — sustained winds of at least 130 mph — early Wednesday over the Atlantic.
By around 5 p.m. ET Wednesday, it was centered about 615 miles southwest of Bermuda, heading north with sustained winds of 130 mph, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.
Fiona is expected to approach Bermuda late Thursday, potentially still as a Category 4 storm, forecasters said.

“Fiona is forecast to be a hurricane-force cyclone through Saturday,” the hurricane center said.

Fiona’s powerful center is currently expected to pass west of Bermuda, sparing the British island territory its worst winds. But sustained winds of at least tropical-storm force — 39 to 73 mph — are expected to reach Bermuda by late Thursday or early Friday, the center said.
The US State Department issued a travel advisory Tuesday urging US citizens to reconsider travel to Bermuda because of the storm. The department also authorized family members of US government personnel to leave the island in anticipation of the storm.

Though the storm isn’t expected to track near the US East Coast, it could generate onshore waves of 8 to 10 feet there over the weekend, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Wednesday.

“It’s not a good weekend to go to the shore and get in the water — it’s time to stay out of the water,” Myers said of the East Coast.

Fiona could affect portions of Atlantic Canada as a powerful hurricane-force cyclone late Friday and Saturday, potentially hammering the region with high winds, storm surge and heavy rainfall.
The storm has strengthened over the past few days — it made landfall in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as a Category 1 hurricane before battering both with outer bands as it moved over water and toward the Turks and Caicos as a storm in Categories 2 and 3.

‘We can’t take it any longer’

Many in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico still are grappling with Fiona’s aftermath and will likely face a prolonged relief and recovery process.

In Nizao, a small city in southern Dominican Republic, a woman tearfully told CNN affiliate Noticias SIN that Fiona’s winds destroyed her home.

The next named storm could be a monster hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico

“Thank God my girls (are) safe. I managed to cover them with something and block them with a washing machine,” she told Noticias SIN this week.

Another woman in Nizao who was clearing mud from belongings told Noticias SIN that she was frustrated because flooding frequently damages the region. This week, she left all belongings behind when floodwater encroached, she said.

“We can’t take it any longer. Every year we lose our bed, clothes, food, everything,” the second woman told Noticias SIN.

More than 610 homes in the Dominican Republic have been destroyed, and some communities were cut off from aid due to the storm, said García, the nation’s emergency operations center director.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said on Twitter Wednesday that the federal government has approved a major disaster declaration request for the island, which ensures additional help from FEMA.
Though US President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration Sunday,…



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