No electricity or drinking water. With streets cut by trees uprooted by the wind, isolated municipalities, houses under water due to overflowing rivers and hundreds of rescue requests through social networks. This is how Puerto Rico woke up this Monday after the passage of Hurricane Fiona. The Category 1 cyclone made landfall on the southwest coast of the island on Sunday afternoon, packing winds gusting up to 103 miles per hour, and depositing up to 30 inches of rain. Fiona also caused a massive blackout and left the country in darkness. This morning service has been restored to some customers, but 70% of the island continues without electricity––over a million people––and 60% without drinking water.
Governor Pedro Pierluisi has not specified how long Puerto Rico will be without power, but has said he hopes it will be “days.” Pierluisi has reported that the damage analysis will begin today to understand the extent of the damage caused by the storm. However, on Sunday afternoon, the chief executive announced that he expected the damage to be “catastrophic.” More than 2,000 people are sheltered in emergency facilities throughout the island, according to the latest data shared by the Government. Thousands of people have had to be rescued and evicted, both by the National Guard and by municipal authorities and residents of the towns most affected by the floods.
For his part, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, yesterday approved an emergency declaration, which allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist the local government in immediate protection measures. . A disaster declaration could later be approved, which would allow FEMA to assist in long-term recovery as well. Puerto Rico is a US territory, so it depends on the federal government to mitigate the effects of an emergency like this.
More than a dozen municipalities remain under a flash flood warning and the rain is expected to continue through Monday. “Catastrophic and life-threatening floods continue throughout almost all of Puerto Rico,” the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest bulletin. Puerto Rico is facing the effects of Hurricane Fiona on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which crossed the island on September 20, 2017 and, among other things, caused a massive blackout and left the country incommunicado for weeks.
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