Hurricane Fiona strengthened into a Category 4 storm on Wednesday after devastatingthen tying the and the . The forecast was to pass through Bermuda at the end of this week.
The US National Hurricane Center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph on Wednesday afternoon and was centered about 650 miles southwest of Bermuda, heading north at 8 mph.
It was likely to approach Bermuda on Thursday and then Canada’s Atlantic provinces on Friday. The US State Department issued a statement Tuesday night telling US citizens to “reconsider travel” to Bermuda.
The storm was blamed for directly causing at least four deaths on its march across the Caribbean, where torrential winds and rain in Puerto Rico left most people in the US mainland without power or running water. Hundreds of thousands of people cleared mud from their homes after what authorities described as “historic” floods.
Power company officials initially said it would take a few days for electricity to be fully restored, but then appeared to backtrack on Tuesday night. Only 26% had power on Wednesday morning, three days after reaching the island.
“Hurricane Fiona has severely affected electrical infrastructure and generation facilities across the island. We want to make it very clear that efforts to restore and re-energize are continuing and are being affected by severe flooding, impassable roads, downed trees, deteriorating equipment and power lines. felled,” said Luma, a company that operates the transmission and distribution of energy.
The storm killed a man in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, another man in Puerto Rico who was swept away by a flooded river and two people in the Dominican Republic: one killed by a fallen tree and the other by an electrical pole.
Two additional deaths were reported in Puerto Rico as a result of the blackout: a 70-year-old man burned to death after trying to fill his generator with gasoline while it was running, and a 78-year-old man who police say had inhaled toxic fumes emitted by his generator.
The hum of generators could be heard throughout the territory as people became increasingly exasperated. Some were still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm five years ago, killing one.
Luis Noguera, who was helping to clear a landslide in the central mountain town of Cayey, said Maria left him without power for a year. The authorities themselves did not declare a full resumption of service until 11 months after Maria’s attack.
“We pay an electrician out of our own pocket to connect us,” he recalled, adding that he doesn’t think the government will be of much help again after Fiona.
Long lines were reported at several gas stations in Puerto Rico, and some turned off a main highway to collect water from a creek.
“We thought we had a bad experience with Maria, but this one was worse,” said Gerardo Rodríguez, who lives in the southern coastal town of Salinas.
Parts of the island received more than 25 inches of rain and more fell on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, officials said they had restored power to nearly 380,000 of the island’s 1.47 million customers. Piped water service was initially stopped for most users on the island due to power outages and cloudy water at filtration plants, but 55% had service as of Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday, the San Juan National Weather Service issued a heat alert for several cities as most people on the island of 3.2 million people remain without power.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency traveled to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, as the agency announced it was sending hundreds of additional personnel to boost local response efforts.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency on the island and sent some teams to the island.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday he would push for the federal government to cover 100% of disaster response costs — instead of the usual 75% — as part of an emergency disaster declaration. .
“We need to make sure that this time around, Puerto Rico has absolutely everything it needs, as quickly as possible, for as long as it needs it,” he said.
Many Americans haven’t heard from family members who don’t have electricity.
Palm Beach County, Florida resident Nancy Valentin told CBS News: “I haven’t been able to talk to my mom and see how she is doing.”
At Boston’s Logan Airport, those arriving from Puerto Rico reported their fear of drowning in Fiona’s floodwaters.
Yolanda Rivera told CBS News, “We stayed in a room in a little corner that was safe, for a whole night with no light or anything. The place was so dark.”
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, authorities reported minimal damage and no deaths, despite the eye of the storm passing near Grand Turk, the small island capital of the British territory, on Tuesday morning.
The government imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas.
“Turks and Caicos have had a phenomenal experience in the last 24 hours,” said Lieutenant Governor Anya Williams. “It certainly came with its share of challenges.”
Source : www.cbsnews.com