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Strengthening Hurricane Fiona heads north towards Bermuda

A man stands outside his home in the wake of Hurricane Fiona in El Seibo, Dominican Republic.

Hurricane Fiona continued its slow and devastating advance north after hitting the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, leaving a trail of destruction in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Wednesday morning that the storm had strengthened, registering maximum wind speeds of 130 miles per hour (210 kilometers per hour) as it swept toward Bermuda.

The NHC said Fiona was 170 kilometers north of Turks and Caicos and had been upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane, the second highest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

“The Fiona swell is expected to reach Bermuda by early Thursday. The swell could cause life-threatening surf and current conditions,” the NHC said in its latest advisory.

At least five people were killed as the storm swept across the Caribbean — one in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe and two in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

“Hurricane Fiona has turned out to be an unpredictable storm,” Anya Williams, the deputy governor of Turks and Caicos, said in a broadcast.

Williams said no casualties or serious injuries have been reported in Turks and Caicos, but she urged residents to remain sheltered in place.

A young person rides his bicycle in Nagua, Dominican Republic

A young person rides his bicycle in Nagua, Dominican Republic.

Blackouts were reported on Grand Turk and several other islands in the archipelago and 165 people were admitted to shelters, she said, adding that the British Royal Navy and the US Coast Guard are standing by to provide assistance.

The President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, has declared three eastern provinces disaster areas: La Altagracia, home to the popular resort of Punta Cana, El Seibo and Hato Mayor.

Authorities said on Tuesday that more than 10,000 people have been moved to “safe areas” while about 400,000 are without electricity.

Footage from local media shows residents of the east coast town of Higuey trying to salvage personal belongings up to their waists in water.

“It came through at high speed,” Vicente Lopez told AFP in Punta Cana, complaining about the destroyed businesses in the area.

This undated photo shows National Guard members providing hurricane relief in Puerto Rico

This undated photo shows members of the National Guard providing hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.

‘I have food and water’

US President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico and sent the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the island, which is still struggling five years ago to recover from Hurricane Maria.

“We are sending hundreds of additional employees to support all affected communities,” FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell said on Tuesday after a tour with Pedro Pierluisi, the island’s governor.

Pierluisi said the storm has caused catastrophic damage to the island of three million people since Sunday, with more than 30 inches (76 centimeters) of rain falling in some areas.

Michelle Carlo, medical advisor for Direct Relief in Puerto Rico, told CBS News that “a lot of people in Puerto Rico are suffering right now.”

“About 80 percent of Puerto Ricans are still without power and about 65 percent are without water,” Carlo said.

Hurricane Fiona

Map showing the projected path of Hurricane Fiona.

In Puerto Rico, Fiona caused landslides, blocked roads and fallen trees, power lines and bridges, Pierluisi said.

Authorities say a man has died as a direct result of the power outage. He was burned to death while trying to fill his generator.

On Monday afternoon, Nelly Marrero went back to her home in Toa Baja, in northern Puerto Rico, to clean up the mud that poured in after she was evacuated.

“Thank God I have food and water,” Marrero, who lost everything when Hurricane Maria struck, told AFP by phone.

The latest storm left about 800,000 people without drinking water due to power outages and flooded rivers, officials said.

After years of financial woes and recession, Puerto Rico declared the largest-ever bankruptcy by a local U.S. government in 2017.

A damaged restaurant located after the passage of Hurricane Fiona in Samana, Dominican Republic

A damaged restaurant located after the passage of Hurricane Fiona in Samana, Dominican Republic.

Later that year, the double whammy of Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused even more misery and destroyed the power grid on the island, which has been struggling with major infrastructure problems for years.

The power grid was privatized in June 2021 in an effort to solve the power outage problem, but the problem persisted and the entire island went out of business earlier this year.

Fiona, a Category 3 hurricane, hits Turks and Caicos Islands

© 2022 AFP

Quote: Strengthening Hurricane Fiona moves north toward Bermuda (September 2022, September 21) recovered September 21, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-hurricane-fiona-north-bermuda.html

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