Even Puerto Ricans who remember 2017’s Hurricane Maria say Fiona could be more destructive.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Juan Miguel Gonzalez, a business owner in San Juan.
“A lot of people – more than Maria – have now lost their homes … lost everything in their homes because of the floods,” Gonzalez told CNN’s Leyla Santiago.
“Maria are strong winds. But this rain, with the rain, it just destroys everything in the house.”
By midday Monday, about 1,000 people in Puerto Rico had been rescued by emergency teams, said Major General José Reyes, an aide to the Puerto Rican National Guard.
Intense rain is expected to continue producing landslides and catastrophic flooding through Monday night.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi said one hundred first responders from New York would arrive in the US territory to help as soon as the weather permits.
Fiona made landfall Monday morning in the Dominican Republic after making landfall a day earlier in southwestern Puerto Rico.
An area north of Ponce reported more than 2 feet of rain in 24 hours.
Officials said rescue efforts were underway Monday in the western Puerto Rican cities of Mayaguez and Hormigueros. The Guanajibo River in Hormigueros has surpassed its previous record height set in Marian times.
Meanwhile, southern Puerto Rico is likely to see another 4 to 6 inches or more of rain earlier this week – meaning Fiona will leave the island with 12 to 30 inches of rain, the National Hurricane Center said. Miami-based experts said.
“This rainfall will continue to cause catastrophic and life-threatening flooding along with landslides and landslides across Puerto Rico,” the storm center said.
Massive blackout paralyzes Puerto Rico
And it could take several days before power is restored, Puerto Rico’s main power supply company said Sunday, as daily high temperatures after Monday are forecast to reach between the mid-80s and 90s.
LUMA Energy said some transmission line problems resulted in power outages. Pierluisi said in a Facebook post.
Late Monday morning, good news from the island’s capital: Electricity was back up and running for the hospitals in the San Juan medical complex, Puerto Rico Health Minister Dr. Carlos Mellado said. Lopez said. The complex is the island’s most important and spans over 227 acres, according to the Puerto Rico Health Administration.
“Electricity at all hospitals in the Medical Center Complex has been restored,” Mellado tweeted Sunday night. “Our patients are safe and get the medical care they need.”
Fiona’s newest street
Intense rain will continue to cause landslides, landslides and catastrophic flooding across Puerto Rico through Monday night, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm hit the Dominican Republic community in Boca de Yuma early Monday, generating maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
Life-threatening flash floods and urban flooding are forecast in eastern parts of the Dominican Republic through early Tuesday, the storm center said.
Fiona could also dump 12 inches of rain in the eastern and northern parts of the country.
As Fiona moves away from the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, it is expected to strengthen as it moves north over warm waters.
Tropical storm conditions are expected over the southeastern Bahamas late Monday or early Tuesday, and Fiona is expected to affect eastern Turks and Caicos on Tuesday morning.
“Fiona will continue to turn north and then northeast this week, near Bermuda on Friday as a major hurricane,” said CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.
Yet another widespread calamity
Samuel Rivera and his mother Lourdes Rodriguez lived without power for about a year after Maria, Rivera told CNN. On Sunday morning, they lost power again, evoking the same fear as the ones they had five years ago.
They are also concerned a nearby river could overflow and trees around their home could be knocked down by strong winds, they said.
Many rivers on the east side of the island were at moderate to heavy flooding Sunday afternoon, including one in the southeast that surged more than 12 feet in less than seven hours.
US President Joe Biden early Sunday morning approved an emergency declaration to provide federal assistance for disaster relief efforts.
Anne Bink, FEMA’s administrator for Response and Recovery, said more than 300 FEMA emergency personnel were on hand to respond to the crisis.
“Our hearts go out to the residents that must once again experience another catastrophic event five years later,” Bink said, nodding to Maria. This time, she said, FEMA plans to implement the lessons learned from the 2017 crisis.
“We’ve been much more prepared,” Bink said. “We have four warehouses strategically located across the island, including goods, the supply is exponentially larger than before.” .
“We’re proactive there – and before any storm hits – to make sure we’re coordinating. And all the planning efforts that we put in during those blue-sky days can have can be done when it rains.”
CNN’s Leyla Santiago in San Juan, Puerto Rico; CNN meteorologists Brandon Miller and Haley Brink; and CNN’s Paul P. Murphy, Jamiel Lynch, Alfonso Serrano, Caitlin Kaiser, Allie Malloy and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.