Puerto Rico’s 3 Million People Have Lost Power As Hurricane Fiona Brings Wind, Rain, And Catastrophic Flooding

·3 min read

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Hurricane Fiona took down Puerto Rico's electrical system Sunday, leaving 3 million people without power as the storm continues to batter the island.

Luma Energy, a private company that took over the transmission and distribution of power in Puerto Rico last year, said dangerous weather conditions made it difficult to fully assess the situation. The company warned that full restoration of power could take several days because of the magnitude and scope of the outage.

There were confirmed reports that some circuits had been reenergized as of Sunday evening, the tracking group PowerOutage.us said, but there was limited information and no source indicating the number of people affected.

At 5 p.m. local time, Hurricane Fiona was moving just west of Puerto Rico and heading toward the eastern Dominican Republic, causing catastrophic flooding, the National Hurricane Center said. Puerto Rico could see as much as 30 inches of rain, especially across the eastern and southern parts of the US territory.

Forecasters also said that Hurricane Fiona, which had strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane Sunday morning, brought winds that reached speeds of 85 miles per hour. The National Weather Service warned residents of mudslides as well as life-threatening and "catastrophic" flash flooding.

"Protocols have been activated according to established plans to address this situation," Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Pierluisi said that there were reports of rivers out of their banks in different parts of the island and that emergency crews were actively responding to calls in which the lives of residents were in imminent danger.

Carlos Mellado López, Puerto Rico's health secretary, said he was at the Comprehensive Cancer Center with emergency responders to work on "the situation" with the generator there.

Posts on social media Sunday afternoon already showed damage caused by powerful floodwaters. A bridge near the town of Utuado collapsed and was washed away.

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Five years ago, Hurricane Maria also completely took down Puerto Rico's power grid, and it took 11 months for power to be restored. The 2017 storm devastated the island, and the government's handling of it was deemed inadequate, according to an internal assessment by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Nearly 3,000 Puerto Ricans died because of Maria, though the US territory's government for months maintained that the death toll was only 64. Among the victims were people who died because of a lack of electricity to run ventilators and dialysis machines, BuzzFeed News previously reported.

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A man stands at a small window with horizontal blinds and blowing curtains

Nelson Cirino secures the windows of his home as the winds of Hurricane Fiona blow in Loíza, Puerto Rico.

Alejandro Granadillo / AP

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