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Montevideo, October 7th 2022 - 02:53 UTC

 

 

Puerto Rico powerless as Hurricane Fiona makes landfall

Monday, September 19th 2022 - 09:37 UTC
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Local authorities also fear “catastrophic flooding” as the storm moves on to the Dominican Republic Local authorities also fear “catastrophic flooding” as the storm moves on to the Dominican Republic

Puerto Rico has been left without electricity as Hurricane Fiona made landfall with winds of up to 160.9 kilometers per hour, amid residents fearing an encore of the devastation left by Hurricane Maria in 2017. US President Joseph Biden declared a state of emergency on the island.

Authorities have insisted it was not safe to restart the energy supply under such weather and urged people to “stay indoors until all this has passed.”

Fiona made landfall Sunday in southwestern Puerto Rico and caused a general power outage amid threats of “catastrophic flooding.”

“As a result of the bad weather the electrical system has suffered several interruptions in the transmission lines, which contributed to a blackout across the island,” the electricity company explained on Twitter while adding that full power restoration “may take several days.”

“Due to the magnitude and scope of the outage, as well as the effects of Hurricane Fiona, full restoration of power service may take several days,” the company warned. Puerto Rico's electricity production has been severely damaged since Maria. In April this year, there was a general blackout due to a fire in a power plant which took several days to restore.

The US National Hurricane Center reported that the cyclone stormed the island with maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour. “This is cause for action and concern,'' said Nino Correa, Puerto Rico's emergency management commissioner.

The category 1 hurricane is strengthening and could cause ”catastrophic“ flooding in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its latest bulletin.

The eye of the hurricane made landfall near Punta Tocon this Sunday. The US National Hurricane Center warned that Fiona could produce storm surge flooding of 30 to 90 centimeters over the normally dry ground along the east and south coast of Puerto Rico, as well as on the islands of Vieques and Culebra, in addition to 30 to 40 centimeters of rain, possibly up to 63 centimeters. ”These rains will pose an extreme risk of potentially deadly flooding, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the island,” the agency said.

Fiona was expected to move near the northern coast of the Dominican Republic in the next few hours and near or east of the Turks and Caicos Islands by Tuesday. So far this hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends November 30, hurricanes Danielle, Earl, and Fiona have formed, while tropical storms Alex, Bonnie, and Colin did not reach cyclone strength.

National Guard spokeswoman Michelle Torres told EFE that the eviction of residents of Toa Baja (north), Cayey (center), Ponce, Salinas, Guánica, and Guayama, the last four in the south, was in progress. Toa Baja and Cayey are the municipalities with the largest number of people affected, approximately 200 in each, while in the rest there are between 15 and 50 evacuees. Also in Bayamón, Mayor Ramón Luis Rivera Cruz explained via Twitter that residents of three different urbanizations were being evacuated.

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