Chasing Fiona: Hurricane Fiona, now a Category 4 storm, is targeting Bermuda

San Juan, Puerto Rico– Hurricane Fiona strengthened into a Category 4 storm early Wednesday as it lashed the Turks and Caicos Islands and is forecast to squeeze past Bermuda later this week.

The storm has been blamed for causing at least four direct deaths as it marched through the Caribbean, where it unleashed torrential rain in Puerto Rico, leaving a majority without power or water as hundreds of thousands of people scraped mud from their homes, authorities said as a “historic” flood.

Officials at the utility company initially said it would take a few days for power to be fully restored, but then appeared to back down late Tuesday night.

“Hurricane Fiona severely impacted electrical infrastructure and power generation facilities across the island. We want to make it clear that recovery and resupply efforts are ongoing and are being impacted by severe flooding, impassable roads, downed trees, deteriorating equipment and downed lines. said Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution.

The hum of generators could be heard across the island as people grew increasingly angry, with some still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria, which hit five years ago as a Category 4 storm and killed an estimated 2,975 people in its aftermath .

Luis Noguera, who helped clean up a landslide in the central mountain town of Cayey, said Maria left him without power for a year.

“We paid an electrician out of pocket to join us,” he recalled, adding that he didn’t think the government would help much again after Fiona.

Long lines were reported at several gas stations across Puerto Rico, and some pulled off a main road to fetch water from a stream.

“We thought we had a bad experience with Maria, but this was worse,” said Gerardo Rodríguez, who lives in the southern coastal town of Salinas.

Parts of the island had received more than 64 centimeters of rain and more had fallen on Tuesday.

As of late Tuesday, authorities said they had power to nearly 300,000 of the island’s 1.47 million customers, while water supplies were disrupted to more than 760,000 customers – two-thirds of the island’s total.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency traveled to Puerto Rico on Tuesday as the agency announced it would deploy hundreds of additional personnel to bolster local response efforts.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency on the island and dispatched some teams to US territory.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, officials reported minimal damage and no fatalities, although the storm’s eye passed near Grand Turk, the capital island of the small British territory, on Tuesday morning.

The government had imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas.

“The Turks and Caicos Islands have had a phenomenal experience over the past 24 hours,” Deputy Governor Anya Williams said. “It certainly came with its share of challenges.”

As of late Tuesday evening, Fiona was about 95 miles (155 kilometers) north of NORTH CAICOS ISLAND, with gale force winds stretching as much as 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the center. It had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 km/h) and was moving north at 8 mph (13 km/h), according to the Hurricane Center, which said the storm was likely to strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane , as it approaches Bermuda on Friday.

The storm killed a man in the French Caribbean region of Guadeloupe, another man in Puerto Rico who was swept away by a swollen river, and two people in the Dominican Republic: one killed by a falling tree and the other by a falling power pole.


Associated Press videographer Alejandro Granadillo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Chasing Fiona: Hurricane Fiona, now a Category 4 storm, is targeting Bermuda

Laura Coffey

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