More than 1.4 million were reported without power in Puerto Rico Sunday afternoon as Hurricane Fiona made landfall, touching down along the southwestern coast, near Punta Tocon, at around 3:20 p.m., with winds blowing an estimated 85 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center reported.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Puerto Rico and the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic, from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo, the National Hurricane Center said earlier on Sunday.
The hurricane warning “means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case within the next 24 hours,” according to an announcement from the National Hurricane Center. “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”
As of now, 1,468,223 customers in Puerto Rico are without power, according to poweroutage.us.
“Protocols have been activated according to plans established to address this situation,” Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, said in a statement about the situation. “Staff at both LUMA (LUMA Energy) and AEE (Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica) are active and ready to respond to the situation once conditions allow.”
“Rivers out of its cesspool are also reported in different regions of Puerto Rico. We emphasize that the safety of everyone is the priority at this time. NMEAD personnel are actively responding to those emergencies where citizens’ lives are in imminent danger,” Pierluisi said in his statement.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, from Cabo Frances Viejo to Puerto Plata, meaning that region could see hurricane-like conditions within the next two days.
As of Sunday morning, the hurricane’s center was expected to “move near or over Puerto Rico this afternoon or evening” before moving near the northern coast of the Dominican Republic Sunday night and Monday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Fiona is expected to move near or to the east of Turks and Caicos on Tuesday.
Winds have already increased to near 80 miles per hour, and they’re expected to get even stronger over the next two days, according to the National Hurricane Center, which added that the hurricane is also expected to bring torrential rains, flash flooding, mudslides and landslides across Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Fiona is expected to bring 12 — 16 inches of rain to Puerto Rico, especially across the eastern and southern regions, and four – eight inches across the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. The British and U.S. Virgin Islands could see four — six inches of rain, while Turks and Caicos could see three — six inches, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Pierluisi announced on Twitter on Sunday that classes in the island’s public schools would be cancelled on Monday, as well as work in government agencies, other than first responders and essential personnel.
The governor also said on Twitter on Sunday that people in flood-prone areas should evacuate, and that 118 shelters are open.
Pierluisi said $550 million in emergency funds were available to deal with the hurricane’s aftermath along with enough food to feed 200,000 people for 20 days three times a day.
The governor previously said the heavy rains anticipated are dangerous because the island’s soil is already saturated. Meanwhile, many Puerto Ricans worried about serious power outages since the reconstruction of the island’s power grid razed by Hurricane Maria in 2017 only recently began. The grid remains fragile and power outages occur daily.
So far, one death has been reported in the French territory of Guadeloupe. More than 20 other people were rescued amid heavy wind and rain that left 13,000 customers without power, with the storm tearing up roads, downing trees and destroying at least one bridge.
Regional prefect Alexandre Rochatte told reporters Saturday that the body was found on the side of a road after floods washed away a home in the capital of Basse-Terre. More than 20 other people were rescued amid heavy wind and rain that left 13,000 customers without power.
Josh Cradduck contributed.