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.
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.
Storm presses north and could threaten Bermuda and Atlantic Canada
“Fiona is forecast to be a hurricane-force cyclone through Saturday,” the hurricane center said.
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.
‘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.
“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.