October 3, 2022

‘It’s unbelievable’: 1,000 rescued as Hurricane Fiona cripples Puerto Rico with flooding and power outages and slams the Dominican Republic

2 min read

By Elizabeth Wolfe, Holly Yan and Melissa Alonso, CNN

Rescuers are scrambling to save flooding victims in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona wiped out power to most of the island before crashing into the Dominican Republic.

Even Puerto Ricans who remember the wrath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 say Fiona might be more destructive.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Juan Miguel Gonzalez, a business owner in San Juan.

“A lot of people — more than (during) Maria — lost their houses now … lost everything in their houses because of the flooding,” Gonzalez told CNN’s Leyla Santiago.

“Maria was tough winds. But this one, with all the rain, it just destroyed everything in the house.”

By midday Monday, about 1,000 people in Puerto Rico had been rescued by emergency crews, said Maj. Gen. José Reyes, adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard.

ars and buildings are partially submerged in Puerto Rico, which remains lagely without power.

Intense rain was expected to produce more mudslides and catastrophic flooding through Monday night.

One hundred first responders from New York will head to the US territory to help as soon as weather allows, Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said, adding governors of New Jersey and California have also pledged to send help.

Fiona made landfall Monday morning in the Dominican Republic after crossing onto land a day earlier in southwestern Puerto Rico.

Still, Puerto Rico remains almost entirely under flash flood or flood warnings — nearly five years to the day after Hurricane Maria devastated the territory.

One area north of the city of Ponce reported over 2 feet of rain in 24 hours.

Rescues were underway Monday in the western Puerto Rican municipalities of Mayaguez and Hormigueros, officials said. The Guanajibo River in Hormigueros surpassed its previous record height set during Maria.

Meanwhile, southern Puerto Rico can expect another 4 to 6 inches of rain or more early this week — meaning Fiona will leave the island deluged with 12 to 30 inches of rain, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

“These rainfall amounts will continue to produce life-threatening and catastrophic flooding along with mudslides and landslides across Puerto Rico,” the hurricane center said.

Fiona has already turned deadly in the Caribbean. At least one death was reported in the heavily-damaged city of Basse-Terre, the capitol of the French territory of Guadeloupe, the vice president of the territory’s environmental agency said.

And Fiona could become a major hurricane by Wednesday, with winds reaching 111 mph. That would make Fiona the first major hurricane of the year in the Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center said.

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