Hurricane Fiona Sweeps Across Puerto Rico


Nadia Aldweib

The season of tropical storms and hurricanes has marked its presence on the world this past week. Storms are building up and many in the Caribbean find themselves seeking shelter away from it all. This is particularly the case in Puerto Rico and most recently the Dominican Republic. In the past few days Puerto Rico has been slammed by Hurricane Fiona as it swept across the island, destroying much in its wake.

The island had been hit hard by Hurricane Maria a few years prior and many feared similar outcomes and catastrophes. Families and businesses are still recovering from the category 4 hurricane back in 2017. In preparation for the approaching Hurricane Fiona, the island ensured that backup generators were fully functional and warehouses were fully stocked with plenty of food and cots for all the people who would be needing them.  

The first reports of the approaching Hurricane Fiona were heard by Puerto Ricans on Saturday, September 17th. It had started out as a tropical storm but eventually grew to be a full scale hurricane. Forecasters had predicted a downpour of nearly 20 inches of rain in Puerto Rico. Citizens braced themselves for potential landslides, power outages, and flooding. Everyone was advised to keep indoors and get ahead with their emergency plans for this type of situation. 

The southern part of the island was hit by Hurricane Fiona in the afternoon of Sunday, September 18th. Heavy rainfall would eventually become severe flooding which caused great damages to the island all around. Wind speed picked up and by the evening was as high as 85 mph and was moving in the northwest direction at 9 mph. The eastern and southern regions of the island received close to 30 inches of rainfall.

Damages were catastrophic and millions are without power due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Fiona. The already unstable power grids of the island suffered transmission grid failure in response to the harsh conditions of the hurricane. The power grids had been almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The restoration has been very gradual as nearly 80% of the island’s transmission and distribution system had been ruined. Power crews have been at work to restore power to critical areas but utility companies claim it will be a few days before a full restoration of power in Puerto Rico occurs.

Many are also left without running water and very few have access to safe drinking water. Water levels of rivers and streams have risen. The Aqueduct and Sewer Authority executive president Doriel Pagán Crespo, stated that personnel will be sent out to help as soon as the water levels begin to go down. Debris and fallen objects in the streets also make it hard for people to get around.

Many are left unaware of how their family is holding up due to current conditions with both loss of electricity and blocked roads. Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Fiona and it is unclear just how much damage has been caused. The worst of it has passed but the hard part will be the rebuilding and fixing the damages done by the storm. 

A state of emergency has been declared by United States president, Joe BIden. He has ordered for federal assistance to help supplement the local responses. Puerto Rico urgently needs assistance due to their limited resources and funds to tackle this natural disaster. Not enough preparation was done by the government and as a result the people of Puerto Rico are paying the price.