Hurricane Fiona strengthens into Category 4 storm, heads toward Bermuda after pummeling Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands
Earlier Tuesday, Hurricane Fiona was upgraded to a powerful Category 4 hurricane after hitting the Turks and Caicos Islands in the direction of Bermuda. Fiona is packing sustained winds of 130 mph.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it is expected to approach Bermuda later on Thursday.US State Department Posted a consultation U.S. citizens were told Tuesday night to “reconsider traveling to Bermuda.”
Fiona is expected to weaken before entering the easternmost part of Canada over the weekend. Not expected to threaten the continental United States.
Earlier Wednesday, Fiona was located about 105 miles north of North Caicos and 755 miles southwest of Bermuda. It was moving north at 8 miles per hour.
The storm killed at least four people directly on its journey through the Caribbean, where it was released Puerto Rico torrential rainafter what authorities described as “historic” floods, with large numbers of people without electricity or water, many scraping mud at their homes.
Power company officials initially said it would take several days to fully restore power, but then appeared to fall back late Tuesday night.
“Hurricane Fiona has severely impacted electrical infrastructure and power generation facilities across the island. We want to make it very clear that restoration and repowering efforts continue and are being affected by severe flooding, impassable roads, fallen trees, deterioration equipment and collapsed lines,” said Luma, the company that operates transmission and distribution.
By late Tuesday, authorities said they had restored power to nearly 300,000 of the island’s 1.47 million customers, while water service was cut off to more than 760,000 customers — a third of the island’s total. two.
The hum of generators can be heard across the island as people grow increasingly angry, with some still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, struck as a Category 4 storm Five years ago, an estimated 2,975 people lost their lives.
Luis Noguera, who is helping clear a landslide in the central mountain town of Cayey, said Maria had cost him power for a year.
“We hired an electrician out of our own pocket to connect us,” he recalled, adding that he didn’t think the government would do much more after Fiona.
Long queues were reported at several gas stations in Puerto Rico, with some pulling off a major highway to get water from a stream.
“We thought our experience with Maria was bad, but it 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, with more rain on Tuesday.
The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency traveled to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, where the agency announced hundreds of additional personnel to bolster the local response.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency for the island and deployed several teams to U.S. soil.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday he would push the federal government to cover 100 percent of the cost of disaster relief — instead of the usual 75 percent — as part of an emergency disaster declaration.
“We need to make sure this time around, Puerto Rico has absolutely everything it needs, as soon as they need it,” he said.
Many Americans have not heard from family members without electricity.
Palm Beach County resident Nancy Valentine told CBS News, “I can’t talk to my mom to see how she’s doing.”
At Boston’s Logan Airport, those from Puerto Rico recounted their fears of drowning in Fiona’s floodwaters.
Yolanda Rivera told CBS News, “We lived in a little corner room that was safe and had no light or nothing all night. The place was so dark.”
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, officials reported minimal damage and no fatalities, although the eye of the storm passed near the small British territorial capital of Grand Turk on Tuesday morning.
The government imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas.
“The Turks and Caicos Islands have had an extraordinary experience over the past 24 hours,” said Lieutenant Governor Anya Williams. “It certainly comes with challenges.”
Storm kills one man in French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, another in Puerto Rico is swept away by raging river, and two men die in Dominican Republic: one killed by fallen tree, the other Killed by a falling telephone pole.