Most Puerto Ricans Have No Electricity or Clean Water After Hurricane Fiona

Most Puerto Ricans Have No Electricity or Clean Water After Hurricane Fiona

The storm has already swept devastation across parts of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

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Homes and businesses in Salinas, Puerto Rico remained under flood waters on Monday afternoon.
Homes and businesses in Salinas, Puerto Rico remained under flood waters on Monday afternoon.
Photo: Alejandro Granadillo (AP)

Hurricane Fiona is continuing on its deadly and destructive path as a strengthened, Category 3 storm. The hurricane, currently centered near Turks and Caicos, killed at least two people in Puerto Rico, the island’s Governor Pedro Pierluisi said on Monday, according to reporting from the Washington Post and CNN.

The storm previously killed one other in Guadeloupe and a fourth death has been attributed to Fiona in the Dominican Republic, where the hurricane made landfall on Monday.

As of Tuesday, millions of people in Puerto Rico remained without power and clean water, following the devastation of the storm’s winds and heavy rain. The hurricane tore across the island on Sunday, and bands of severe weather lingered through Monday afternoon. Large areas of Puerto Rico received more than 20 inches of rain, and some spots, including the island’s second largest city, Ponce, were hit with more than 30 inches.

760,923 households, or 60% of Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority’s customers, have no water service, according to the official emergency portal system.

More than 1.17 million households, about 80%, are still without electricity. It’s an outage that LUMA—the island’s controversial recently established private power company—has said will likely last for days in some areas. LUMA announced Tuesday afternoon that it had so far restored electricity to 300,000 customers, including some major hospitals.

Widespread flooding persists as rivers remain swollen. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” National Guard Brigadier General Narciso Cruz, told the Associated Press. “There were communities that flooded in the storm that didn’t flood under Maria.”

Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico five years ago, killing thousands of people and decimating the U.S. territory’s infrastructure. In the half decade since, the island still hadn’t fully recovered, reckoning with debt, bankruptcy, an unreliable power grid, and stalled reconstruction efforts.

And the lingering effects of slow and inadequate U.S. investment and assistance have left Puerto Rico additionally vulnerable to subsequent extreme weather events. Thousands were still living in houses severely damaged by Maria, with blue tarps in lieu of stable roofs, as Sunday’s hurricane hit. Following Fiona, at least 1,300 people spent the night in shelters after having been evacuated from their homes, according to the AP.

Fiona was the first major storm (as defined by the National Hurricane Center) to make landfall in an unusually quiet Atlantic hurricane season. The storm is forecast to continue to strengthen as it heads towards Bermuda as a Category 4 hurricane. It is also projected to make landfall in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in Canada this weekend.

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Category 1

Category 1

Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico as a Category 1 storm. However, it still brought heavy winds and intense rain to the U.S. territory.
Gif: Newsflare (AP)

Storm category doesn’t always correspond to the amount of damage caused by a hurricane. Slower moving, lower category storms can linger and drop more precipitation over a longer period of time.

Since Sunday, Fiona has strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane.

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Seeking Shelter

Seeking Shelter

Photo of people in a storm shelter
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, people waited out the lingering storm and floods in a shelter on Monday.
Photo: Stephanie Rojas (AP)
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Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

Photo of people standing amid damaged homes
Fiona battered the Dominican Republic after Puerto Rico. There, many peoples’ homes have been badly damaged by the storm.
Photo: Ricardo Hernandez (AP)
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Roofs Torn Away

Roofs Torn Away

Photo of home without roof
Efforts to repair the damage are already underway in Veron de Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. On Monday, residents of the neighborhood Kosovo worked to replace a roof.
Photo: Ricardo Hernandez (AP)
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Swollen Rivers

Swollen Rivers

Widespread flooding continues in Puerto Rico. Rivers are swollen and rushing with brown water and debris following the storm.
Gif: @carlipido via Spectee (AP)
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Mud Everywhere

Mud Everywhere

Photo of home damaged by storm
Mud covers the floor of a house flooded by Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico.
Photo: Stephanie Rojas (AP)
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Mudslides

Mudslides

Photo of people shoveling mud
Mudslides were reported in some areas of Puerto Rico. Here, debris from a mudslide blocks a road in Cayey.
Photo: Stephanie Rojas (AP)
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Flooded Roads

Flooded Roads

Photo of man wading in muddy water
From AP: “A man walks on a road flooded by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico.” Several major roads across the island remain closed.
Photo: Stephanie Rojas (AP)
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Clean-Up Begins

Clean-Up Begins

Photo of woman bending over in floodwaters
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, a woman attempted to clear debris from her property on Monday.
Photo: Alejandro Granadillo (AP)
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