Puerto Rico reels from Fiona, with 1.3M without power amid deluge, flash floods

Puerto Rico remains under tropical storm warning after Hurricane Fiona dumped more than 2 feet of rain over the weekend.

More floods and landslides are expected Monday as intense rains are expected to continue until end of day Tuesday.

Heavy rainfall left an “unprecedented accumulation of water in some areas,” but the most affected are towns in the mountainous region in the center of the island as well as in the southern region, Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said in a press conference late Monday morning.

Catastrophic flooding has already battered much of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona made landfall Sunday at about 3:20 p.m. An islandwide blackout was reported about an hour before as the eye of Fiona neared Puerto Rico‘s southwestern coast.

Most of the nearly 1.5 power customers in Puerto Rico remain without electricity. As of late Monday morning, about 100,000 customers have had their electricity restored, according to Luma Energy, the company in charge of power transmission and distribution in Puerto Rico.

The devastation and failure of the power grid echoes the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which made landfall five years ago this month and was the deadliest natural disaster on U.S. territory in 100 years.

On Monday the National Weather Service in San Juan urged locals to “move to high ground immediately!” due to ongoing flash flooding, expected to worsen with the pounding rain.

Bands of showers and gusty winds from 30 to 40 mph are forecast to bear down on the island on Monday, especially in the south, from Guayama to Ponce, the weather service said.

People inside a house in Cayey await rescue Sunday from the floods caused by Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico.Stephanie Rojas / AP

At least two bridges have collapsed after the Category 1 hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico, one in the town of Utuado and another one in Arecibo.

Sixty-six percent of all water service customers, over 830,000 customers, have not had their service restored as of late Monday morning 11:45 a.m., according to the government’s PREPS page.

In the southern town of Ponce, the Mercedita International Airport remains closed due to flooding. Muddy waters in the region created mudslides in some neighborhoods, forcing some people to cling to poles in waist-deep water.

As of Monday morning Fiona was making landfall in the Dominican Republic, last located 35 miles southeast of Samana with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is forecast to bring hurricane conditions to the Dominican Republic on Monday with a hurricane warning in effect from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo, as well as Turks and Caicos. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra, and the north coast of the Dominican Republic and southeastern Bahamas. 

Fiona is expected to continue northwest through Monday night and will turn north-northwest on Tuesday and to the north on Wednesday, the hurricane center said.

The storm is forecast to move over the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic early Monday, with its center passing near or to the east of Turks and Caicos on Tuesday. 

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