The provinces of Bermuda and Atlantic Canada braced for the effects of Hurricane Fiona, as officials in Puerto Rico scrambled Thursday to clear roads and help people stranded and without power from the storm’s devastating blow.
The storm is still expected to be at Category 4 strength as it approaches Bermuda overnight, and still become dangerous when it reaches Atlantic Canada, possibly on Friday night, as an extratropical cyclone.
“It will be a huge storm when it makes landfall,” said Bob Robichaud, a meteorologist at Canada’s Hurricane Center. “It will cover a fairly large area.”
Canadian officials are preparing for the potential for flooding, landslides, storm surges and power outages.
For their part, Puerto Rican officials are working with religious groups, NGOs, and others to get food, water, and medicine on foot from landslides, thick mud, and broken asphalt that have been It is needed the most, but are under pressure to clear roads that allow vehicles to ply in isolated areas.
Local Emergency Management Agency commissioner Nino Correa estimated that at least six municipalities on the island had isolated areas after the storm passed. Fiona made landfall on the island as a Category 1 hurricane.
Manuel Veguilla hasn’t been able to leave his neighborhood in the mountainous town of Caguas, north of the island, since Fiona’s arrival on Sunday.
“We are all communicatives,” he said, adding that he was concerned about older neighbors, including his elder brother, who do not have the strength to hike to the nearest community.
Veguila heard that city officials might open a road on Thursday, but he doubted it would be because there were large rocks on and around a nearby bridge.
Neighbors shared food and water left by the NGO, and the son of an elderly woman was able to bring them basic supplies on foot on Wednesday, he said.
According to Veguila, along with Maria, a Category 4 hurricane that left nearly 3,000 people dead five years ago, she and others used picks and shovels to remove the debris. But Fiona was different and caused a massive landslide.
“I can’t throw a stone over my shoulder,” he said.
Like hundreds of other Puerto Ricans, Veguila was left without water and electricity, but said there was a natural water source nearby.
Fiona caused widespread blackouts across the island when it struck southwestern Puerto Rico, which was trying to recover from strong earthquakes in recent years. Even four days after the storm’s impact, 62% of the 1.47 million users were without power amid extreme temperature alerts issued by the National Weather Service. A third of 40% of customers, or some 400,000 customers, did not even have water.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency sent hundreds of additional staff to help local officials, while the federal government approved a major disaster declaration and declared a public health emergency on the island.
Neither local officials nor the federal government have estimated the cost of damage caused by Fiona in an area that is trying to recover from a meteor that threw more than 76 centimeters (30 inches) of rain in some areas. More than 1,000 people were still in shelters.
“Our hearts go out to the people of Puerto Rico who have gone through a lot over the past two years,” said Brad Keiserman, Red Cross vice president of operations and logistics.
After Puerto Rico, Fiona struck the Dominican Republic and passed through the Turks and Caicos Islands, gaining strength and becoming a Category 4 hurricane. Country officials reported light damage and no deaths, although the whirlwind of the storm passed. The small island capital of British territory, on Tuesday.
Lieutenant Governor Anya Williams said, “God has done us good and kept us safe during this time when we could have had a worse outcome.”
According to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), Fiona is expected to pass near Bermuda early Friday and hit Far Eastern Canada early Saturday.
According to the NHC, as of Thursday afternoon, Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km/h). It was located 660 kilometers (410 mi) southwest of Bermuda and was moving to the north-northeast at 24 km/h (15 mph).