Fiona made landfall in the Dominican Republic on Monday morning after making landfall in southwestern Puerto Rico a day earlier.
An area north of Ponce has received over 2 feet of rain in the past 24 hours. Southern Puerto Rico can expect another 4 to 6 inches of rain or more early this week — meaning Fiona will leave the island with 12 to 30 inches of rain, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.
“These rain levels will create life-threatening and catastrophic flooding with mudslides and landslides across Puerto Rico,” the hurricane center said.
Massive power outage paralyzes Puerto Rico
With daily high temperatures forecast to reach the mid-80s to upper 90s after Monday, it could take days before power is restored, Puerto Rico’s main power utility said Sunday.
Several transmission line outages contributed to the blackout, LUMA Energy said. Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi said in a Facebook post that power would be restored “gradually.”
On Monday morning, there was good news from the island’s capital: power was restored to hospitals in San Juan’s medical complex, Puerto Rico Health Secretary Dr. Carlos Melloto López said. According to Puerto Rico’s Health Administration, the complex is the island’s largest and spans 227 acres.
“Power has been restored to all hospitals on the Medical Center campus,” Melloto tweeted Sunday night. “Our patients are safe and getting the medical care they need.”
Fiona’s latest trajectory
The hurricane hit the Dominican Republic’s Boca de Yuma community early Monday morning with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
Eastern parts of the Dominican Republic may also see flooding, mudslides or landslides, the hurricane center said. Fiona could drop up to 12 inches of rain in eastern and northern parts of the country.
Further significant strengthening is expected as Fiona moves northward over warm water as it moves away from the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.
Tropical storm conditions are expected in the southeastern Bahamas late Monday or early Tuesday, and Fiona is expected to affect the eastern Turks and Caicos Tuesday morning.
“Fiona will turn north and then northeast this week, approaching Bermuda as a major hurricane on Friday,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.
Yet another widespread disaster
Samuel Rivera and his mother, Lourdes Rodriguez, lived without electricity for about a year after Maria, Rivera told CNN’s Laila Santiago. On Sunday morning, they lost power once again, and they imagined the same fear as five years ago.
They were also worried that the nearby river might flood and trees around their house could be uprooted by strong winds.
Several rivers on the eastern side of the island remained in moderate flood as of Sunday afternoon, including one southeast river that rose more than 12 feet within seven hours.
US President Joe Biden early Sunday approved an emergency declaration to provide federal aid for disaster relief efforts.
More than 300 FEMA emergency personnel were on the ground responding to the crisis, said Anne Pink, FEMA’s associate administrator for response and recovery.
“Our hearts go out to the residents who are experiencing another catastrophic event five years later,” Pink said in a nod to Maria. This time, FEMA plans to apply lessons learned from the 2017 crisis, he said.
“We were more prepared. We now have four warehouses strategically located across the island that include goods, exponentially larger deliveries than in the past,” Pink said.
“We’re proactive — ahead of any storm — to make sure we’re coordinating. And all the planning efforts we put into those blue-sky days can hold up when it rains.”
CNN’s Leila Santiago, Jameel Lynch, Alfonso Serrano, Caitlin Kaiser, Allie Malloy, Dakin Anton and Haley Brink contributed to this report.