Hurricane Fiona makes landfall in Dominican Republic as more than a million people in Puerto Rico are still without power
The Category 1 storm came ashore near Boca de Yuma at 3:30 am with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
As the storm is moving slowly to the northwest, it is still dropping flooding rain on Puerto Rico, where more than 1.4 million people are without power.
Fiona will continue to pummel Puerto Rico and eastern portions of the Dominican Republic into Monday. Eastern areas of the Dominican Republic may also see flooding as well as mudslides and landslides in higher areas, according to the hurricane center. Fiona could bring a total of up to 30 inches of rainfall to Puerto Rico and up to 12 inches to eastern and northern Dominican Republic.
LUMA Energy, the main power utility in Puerto Rico, said in a statement Sunday it could be days before power is restored, adding “several transmission line outages” are contributing to the blackout. The process will be done “gradually,” Governor Pedro Pierluisi said in a Facebook post.
Samuel Rivera and his mother Lourdes Rodriguez lived without power for about a year after Maria struck, Rivera told CNN’s Layla Santiago. On Sunday morning, they lost power once again, conjuring up similar fears to those they had five years ago.
They said they are also concerned a nearby river may overflow and the trees surrounding their home may be felled by the powerful winds.
Life-threatening flooding tears through Puerto Rico
As Hurricane Fiona made landfall Sunday, most of Puerto Rico was under a flash flood warning in anticipation of the overwhelming downpour. The National Weather Service in San Juan warned of “catastrophic” and life-threatening flood conditions.
Many rivers on the eastern side of the island were in moderate to major flood stages Sunday afternoon, including one southeastern river which rose over 12 feet in less than 7 hours. By Sunday night, the National Weather Service also issued flash flood warnings across southern parts of central Puerto Rico.
In response to the risk Puerto Rico faced, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration early Sunday to provide federal assistance to disaster relief efforts.
More than 300 FEMA emergency workers were on the ground to respond to the crisis, the agency’s Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery, Anne Bink, told CNN.
“Our heart goes out to the residents that again are going through another catastrophic event five years later,” Bink said, nodding to the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria. This time, she said, FEMA plans to implement lessons learned from the 2017 crisis.
“We were much more prepared. We have four warehouses now strategically located throughout the island, which includes commodities, exponentially larger supplies than in the past,” she said.
“We’re proactively there — and well ahead of any storm hitting — to make sure that we are coordinating. And all of the planning efforts we undertake during those blue skies days can be brought to bear when the rain falls.”
CNN’s Leyla Santiago, Jamiel Lynch, Alfonso Serrano, Caitlin Kaiser, Allie Malloy, Haley Brink, Dakin Andone and Robert Shackelford contributed to this report.