cloudy.png
Tuesday January 31st, 2023 5:34PM

Eye of Hurricane Fiona nears battered, powerless Puerto Rico

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HAVANA (AP) — The eye of newly formed Hurricane Fiona neared Puerto Rico's south coast on Sunday — already causing an island-wide power blackout and threatening to dump “historic” levels of rain.

Forecasters said the downpour was expected to produce landslides and catastrophic flooding, with up to 25 inches (64 centimeters) possible in isolated areas.

“It’s time to take action and be concerned,” said Nino Correa, Puerto Rico’s emergency management commissioner.

Fiona was centered 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Sunday morning, and its clouds covered the entire island. It had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) and was moving west-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).

Tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 140 miles (220 kilometers) from Fiona's center.

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island's southwest corner.

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to “a blackout on all the island.”

“Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering out capacity to evaluate the complete situation,” it said, adding that it could take several days to fully restore power.

Health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews were working to repair generators as soon as possible at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Fiona hit just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm that struck on Sept. 20, 2017, destroying the island's power grid and causing nearly 3,000 deaths.

More than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof, and infrastructure remains weak.

Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to “a blackout on all the island.”

“Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering out capacity to evaluate the complete situation,” it said, adding that it could take several days to fully restore power.

“I think all of us Puerto Ricans who lived through Maria have that post-traumatic stress of, ‘What is going to happen, how long is it going to last and what needs might we face?’” said Danny Hernández, who works in the capital of San Juan but planned to weather the storm with his parents and family in the western town of Mayaguez.

He said the atmosphere was gloomy at the supermarket as he and others stocked up before the storm hit.

“After Maria, we all experienced scarcity to some extent,” he said.

The storm was forecast to pummel cities and towns along Puerto Rico’s southern coast that have not yet fully recovered from a string of strong earthquakes starting in late 2019.

Officials reported several road closures across the island as trees and small landslides blocked access.

More than 640 people with some 70 pets had sought shelter across the island by Saturday night, the majority of them in the southern coast.

Puerto Rico’s power grid was razed by Hurricane Maria and remains frail, with reconstruction starting only recently. Outages are a daily occurrence.

In the southwest town of El Combate, hotel co-owner Tomás Rivera said he was prepared but worried about the “enormous” amount of rain he expected. He noted that a nearby wildlife refuge was eerily quiet.

“There are thousands of birds here, and they are nowhere to be seen,” he said. “Even the birds have realized what is coming, and they're preparing.”

Rivera said his employees brought bedridden family members to the hotel, where he has stocked up on diesel, gasoline, food, water and ice, given how slowly the government responded after Hurricane Maria.

“What we’ve done is prepared ourselves to depend as little as possible on the central government,” he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by 70-year-old Ana Córdova, who arrived Saturday at a shelter in the north coastal town of Loiza after buying loads of food and water.

“I don’t trust them,” she said, referring to the government. “I lost trust after what happened after Hurricane Maria.”

Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, activated the National Guard as the Atlantic hurricane season’s sixth named storm approached.

“What worries me most is the rain,” said forecaster Ernesto Morales with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

Fiona was predicted to drop 12 to 16 inches (30 to 41 centimeters) of rain over eastern and southern Puerto Rico, with as much as 25 inches (64 centimeters) in isolated spots. Morales noted that Hurricane Maria in 2017 had unleashed 40 inches (102 centimeters).

The National Weather Service warned late Saturday that the Blanco River in the southeast coastal town of Naguabo had already surpassed its banks and urged people living nearby to move immediately.

Pierluisi announced Sunday that public schools and government agencies would remain closed on Monday.

Fiona was forecast to swipe the Dominican Republic on Monday and then northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with the threat of heavy rain. It could threaten the far southern end of the Bahamas on Tuesday.

A hurricane warning was posted for the Dominican Republic's eastern coast from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said. The storm also damaged roads, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one bridge.

St. Kitts and Nevis also reported flooding and downed trees, but announced its international airport would reopen on Sunday afternoon. Dozens of customers were still without power or water, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

In the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Madeline was forecast to cause heavy rains and flooding across parts of southwestern Mexico. The storm was centered about 155 miles (245 kilometers) south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes Sunday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph).

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2023 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Eye of Hurricane Fiona nears battered, powerless Puerto Rico
The eye of newly formed Hurricane Fiona is near the coast of Puerto Rico — and it has already sparked an island-wide blackout and threatens to dump “historic” levels of rain
2:47PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Suits to save Confederate icons dropped in South Carolina
Lawsuits filed to stop the removal of memorials to Confederate leaders and a pro-slavery congressman in a South Carolina city have been dropped
2:32PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Biden says queen's death left 'giant hole' for royal family
U_S_ President Joe Biden, in London for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, says his heart went out to the royal family, adding the queen’s death left a “giant hole.”
2:14PM ( 54 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Live updates: Biden joins other world leaders at reception
U.S. President Joe Biden has joined world leaders and dignitaries at Buckingham Palace for a reception hosted by King Charles III
2:50PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Eye of Hurricane Fiona nears battered Puerto Rico
The eye of newly formed Hurricane Fiona is near the coast of Puerto Rico — and it has already left hundreds of thousands without power and threatens to dump “historic” levels of rain
2:28PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Bidens among thousands paying respects to Queen Elizabeth II
U.S. President Joe Biden paid his respects at Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin as thousands of police, hundreds of British troops and an army of officials made final preparations for the queen’s state funeral
2:15PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Bidens among thousands to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth II
Thousands of police, hundreds of British troops and an army of officials are making final preparations for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
12:29PM ( 2 hours ago )
World leaders head to London for Queen Elizabeth II funeral
Thousands of police, hundreds of British troops and an army of officials are making final preparations for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
11:02AM ( 4 hours ago )
Strong quake kills 1, knocks house, derails train in Taiwan
A strong earthquake has shaken much of Taiwan, killing one person and injuring nine
9:48AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP National News
UK: Russia likely to step up Ukraine civilian target attacks
Prosecutors in an area of Ukraine where Russian forces recently retreated in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive are accusing Russia of torturing civilians in one village that was recently freed
7:24AM ( 7 hours ago )
Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II is huge security challenge
London Mayor Sadiq Khan says Monday’s state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II is an “unprecedented” security challenge
7:13AM ( 7 hours ago )
By the numbers: Facts and figures about the queen's funeral
Events surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral on Monday cap 10 days of national mourning and are expected to be watched by hundreds of thousands of people packed onto the streets of London and millions around the world
7:09AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Storm battering western Alaska causes widespread flooding
A powerful storm traveling north through the Bering Strait is causing widespread flooding in several western Alaska coastal communities, knocking out power and sending residents to higher ground
1:26AM ( 13 hours ago )
Sheriff: 2 small planes collide in midair near Denver, 3 die
Authorities say three people are dead after two small planes collided in midair near Denver
11:01PM ( 16 hours ago )
US-UK relations enter new chapter as new PM, king settle in
President Joe Biden has arrived in London to pay his respects to Queen Elizabeth II at a time of transition in U.S.-U.K. relations, with both a new monarch and a new prime minister settling in
5:07PM ( 22 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
NASCAR faces more questions about new car after Bristol bash
At least a dozen of the playoff drivers had some sort of problem with NASCAR’s new Next Gen car Saturday night at Bristol
12:59PM ( 2 hours ago )
Vatican envoy comes under fire as he delivers aid in Ukraine
The Vatican news service says a top envoy and his entourage who were distributing humanitarian supplies in Ukraine came under fire, but there were no injuries
8:32AM ( 6 hours ago )
For Russia's Putin, military and diplomatic pressures mount
Pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin has mounted on the battlefield and in the halls of global power
5:34PM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Business
Hungary faces reckoning with EU that could cost it billions
Hungary's nationalist-populist government is facing a reckoning with the European Union after nearly a decade of accusations that it has failed to uphold the EU's democratic values
4:29AM ( 1 day ago )
Witness questioned about Jones criticism of Sandy Hook trial
Alex Jones' criticism of his trial in Connecticut over calling the Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax has become a topic of the proceedings
8:08PM ( 1 day ago )
Court rules in favor of Texas law on social media regulation
A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a Texas law targeting major social media companies like Facebook and Twitter
7:31PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Queen's death upends the debut of new UK leader Liz Truss
British Prime Minister Liz Truss took office less than two weeks ago, impatient to set her stamp on government
9:39AM ( 1 day ago )
Putin vows to press attack on Ukraine; courts India, China
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to press his attack against Ukraine despite its latest counteroffensive
10:37PM ( 1 day ago )
California governor signs sweeping climate legislation
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a package of bills aimed at moving away from reliance on fossil fuel-based energy
4:48PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Industries
Oktoberfest is back but inflation hits brewers, cost of beer
Oktoberfest is on tap again in Germany after two years of pandemic cancellations
10:40AM ( 2 days ago )
Oktoberfest is back but shadowed by 'red hot' inflation
Oktoberfest is on tap again in Germany after a two-year pandemic interruption
6:42AM ( 2 days ago )
Ukraine's president: Mass grave found near recaptured city
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukrainian authorities have found a mass burial site near a recaptured northeastern city previously occupied by Russian forces
6:59PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Suits to save Confederate icons dropped in South Carolina
Lawsuits filed to stop the removal of memorials to Confederate leaders and a pro-slavery congressman in a South Carolina city have been dropped
2:32PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Biden says queen's death left 'giant hole' for royal family
U_S_ President Joe Biden, in London for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, says his heart went out to the royal family, adding the queen’s death left a “giant hole.”
2:14PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Sailor who died at Pearl Harbor to be buried at Arlington
The remains of a sailor from Massachusetts who died when the USS Oklahoma capsized during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 are being buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday
1:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
Report: Some census takers who fudged data didn't get fired
A watchdog group has determined that some census takers who falsified information during the 2020 census didn’t have their work redone fully, weren’t fired in a timely manner and in some cases even received bonuses
1:18PM ( 1 hour ago )
Fiona becomes a hurricane, aims at battered Puerto Rico
Fiona has strengthened into a hurricane as it bears down on Puerto Rico, where it has already left hundreds of thousands without power and threatens to dump potentially “historic” levels of rain
12:51PM ( 2 hours ago )