Fiona hammers Turks and Caicos Islands with hurricane winds

Fiona Hammers Turks And Caicos Islands With Hurricane Winds
Puerto Rico Tropical Weather, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Danica Coto, Associated Press

Hurricane Fiona is raking the Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 3 storm after devastating Puerto Rico.

The storm’s eye passed close to Grand Turk, the small British territory’s capital island, on Tuesday morning after the government imposed a curfew and urged people to flee flood-prone areas.


Late on Tuesday morning, the storm was centred about 40 miles north-north-west of the island, with hurricane-force winds extending up to 30 miles from the centre.

“Storms are unpredictable,” premier Washington Misick said in a statement from London, where he was attending the funeral of the Queen. “You must therefore take every precaution to ensure your safety.”

Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 115mph and was moving north-north-west at 10mph, according to the US National Hurricane Centre, which said the storm is likely to strengthen further into a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches Bermuda on Friday.


It is forecast to weaken before running into eastern Canada over the weekend.

The broad storm kept dropping rain over the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where a 58-year-old man died after police said he was swept away by a river in the central mountain town of Comerio.

Another death was linked to a power blackout — a 70-year-old man was burned to death after he tried to fill his generator with petrol while it was running, officials said.

The National Guard has rescued more than 900 people as floodwaters continue to rush through towns in eastern and southern Puerto Rico with up to 30 inches of rain forecast for some areas. Multiple landslides were also reported.


Puerto Rico Tropical Weather
A man cuts a tree that was felled by the wind from Hurricane Fiona in Loiza, Puerto Rico (Alejandro Granadillo/AP)

National Guard Brigadier General Narciso Cruz described the resulting flooding as historic.

“There were communities that flooded in the storm that didn’t flood under Maria,” he said, referring to the 2017 hurricane that caused nearly 3,000 deaths. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”


Brig Gen Cruz said 670 people have been rescued in Puerto Rico, including 19 at a retirement home that was in danger of collapsing.

“The rivers broke their banks and blanketed communities,” he said.

Some were rescued by kayaks and boats while others nestled into the massive shovel of a digger and were lifted to higher ground.

He said some people refused to leave their homes, adding that he understood them.

Puerto Rico Tropical Weather
Residents affected by Hurricane Fiona rest at a school in Salinas, Puerto Rico (Alejandro Granadillo/AP)

“It’s human nature,” he said. “But when they saw their lives were in danger, they agreed to leave.”

The blow from Fiona was more devastating because Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Maria, which destroyed the power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island are still covered by blue tarpaulins.

Authorities said on Monday at least 2,300 people and 250 pets remained in shelters across the island.

Fiona triggered a blackout when it hit Puerto Rico’s south-west corner on Sunday, the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into the island in 1989 as a Category 3 storm.

By Tuesday morning, authorities said they had restored power to more than 285,000 of the island’s 1.47 million customers.

Governor Pedro Pierluisi warned it could take days before everyone has electricity.

Dominican Republic Tropical Weather
A beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (Ricardo Hernandez/AP)

Water service was cut to more than 837,000 households — two-thirds of the total on the island — because of cloudy water at filtration plants or lack of power, officials said.

In the Dominican Republic, authorities reported one death: a man hit by a falling tree. The storm displaced more than 12,400 people and cut off at least two communities.

The hurricane left several highways blocked, and a tourist pier in the town of Miches was badly damaged by high waves. At least four international airports were closed, officials said.

Dominican President Luis Abinader said authorities would need several days to assess the storm’s effects.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floodwaters washed his home away, officials said.

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