Reinforced Bermuda supports for strong Hurricane Fiona
Beach chairs and umbrellas were stowed, shop windows were covered and a lighthouse lit racing clouds overhead as Bermuda braced itself Thursday for Hurricane Fiona, a powerful Category 4 storm that has left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean.
Wind and waves increased as darkness fell over British territory, and Bermudians rushed to the safety of their sturdy homes before the storm, the center of which will soon be more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the west-northwest of the island. pass Friday, according to the Bermuda Weather Service.
Fiona remained a Category 4 storm, the second highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale, although Accuweather forecasters said it could be downgraded to a Category 3 if it passes Bermuda around 05:00 (0800 GMT) .
With a storm of that magnitude and magnitude, the residents did not take any risk.
“This storm will be worse than the last,” Richard Hartley, owner of the Torwood Home store in the capital Hamilton, told AFP as he and his wife covered the store’s cedar-clad windows with metal sheeting.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the Fiona had maximum sustained winds of nearly 130 miles per hour, with higher gusts.
Hurricane-force winds extend more than 70 miles from the eye of the storm, and tropical gale-force winds up to 200 miles, the NHC said, forecasting up to 10 inches of rain and “big and destructive” waves and storm surge.
The island of some 64,000 people is no stranger to hurricanes, but it’s also small, just 54 square miles, and one of the most remote places in the world, 640 miles from its nearest neighbor, the United States.
That means there’s nowhere to evacuate if a major storm hits.
“You have to live with it because you live here, you can’t go anywhere because it’s just a small island,” said JoeAnn Scott, a shop assistant in Hamilton.
Bermudians try to “enjoy it as it comes,” she said. “And pray and pray. That’s what we do, pray and party,” she added with a laugh.
At Bermuda’s famous Horseshoe Bay Beach, where onlookers flocked to assess the crashing waves and stretch their legs for a long night indoors, resident Gina Maughan said the island would be ready.
“It’s always interesting to come down and see the surf,” she said as she watched two kite surfers soar into the sky.
“These guys are a little crazy,” she added.
Construction ‘built to last’
Due to the isolation of the island, preparations are taken seriously.
Many boats were taken out of the water earlier this week, outdoor furniture was moved inside and storm shutters on the windows of most homes were checked.
Public schools are closed on Friday and the government has announced that an emergency shelter will be opened. Buses and ferries stopped running at the end of Thursday.
The Royal Bermuda Regiment was on standby to help with the cleanup and the Secretary of State for National Security, Michael Weeks, begged residents to stay inside until everything was clear.
“Please Bermuda, don’t drive around, don’t go out to take pictures, don’t be reckless,” he told a news conference.
In addition to stockpiling candles and food, some Bermudians were also drawing buckets of water and filling bathtubs from the tanks on the side of their homes in anticipation of expected power outages.
There is no freshwater source on the island, so all the buildings have white lime-washed roofs that are used to collect rainwater that is led into tanks and pumped into homes as the main water supply.
Bermuda, whose economy is fueled by international finance and tourism, is prosperous compared to most Caribbean countries, and structures must be built to strict planning codes to withstand storms. Some have been doing that for centuries.
“The structure is really built to last, and we don’t see the devastation that the Caribbean has seen over the years,” said store owner Hartley’s wife, Elaine Murray.
Fiona killed four people in Puerto Rico earlier this week, according to US media, while one was reported dead in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe and another in the Dominican Republic.
President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, a US territory that five years ago is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria.
In the Dominican Republic, President Luis Abinader has declared three eastern provinces disaster areas.
Farther north in Bermuda, the islanders were calm.
“I’ve been through a lot of hurricanes, so no, I’m not worried,” said resident Rochelle Jones.
But if something goes wrong, Bermudians will “all come out together and we help each other,” she said.
Hurricane Fiona heads for Bermuda, US advises citizens to postpone travel
© 2022 AFP
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