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Hurricane Fiona Makes Landfall in Dominican Republic After Knocking Out Power in Puerto Rico

Flooding caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, P.R., on Sunday. Forecasters said as much as 30 inches of rain could fall in some places.

Hurricane Fiona made landfall on the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic on Monday morning, a day after the storm knocked out power to nearby Puerto Rico and caused what the governor there called “catastrophic” damages.

Nearly 1.5 million customers in Puerto Rico were without electricity early Monday morning, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks power interruptions.

Pedro Pierluisi, the governor of Puerto Rico, said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that the authorities were assessing damage and working to stave off a growing disaster. He said officials were rescuing people in isolated areas and deploying the National Guard and other personnel to evacuate low-lying areas where rivers were expected to flood.

“Hurricane Fiona has blanketed Puerto Rico,” Mr. Pierluisi said in Spanish, adding that the storm has been one of the most significant to hit since Hurricane Maria devastated it in 2017. “This has been a direct impact that has covered all of the island.”

The storm made landfall in the Dominican Republic, meaning the eye of the storm crossed the shoreline, at 3:30 a.m. Eastern time Monday morning near Boca de Yuma. At the time, its maximum sustained winds were estimated at 90 miles per hour.

Fiona is expected to move over the eastern part of the Dominican Republic through Monday and toward the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday. It is expected to grow stronger over the next few days and become a major hurricane — meaning a Category 3 or higher — by Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane watches and warnings were in effect across the region. Puerto Rico remained under a hurricane warning on Monday, meaning hurricane conditions were expected, along with the Turks and Caicos and the eastern coast of the Dominican Republic, from Cabo Caucedo to Cabo Frances Viejo. The north coast, from Cabo Frances Viejo westward to Puerto Plata, was under a hurricane watch. The northern and eastern parts of the country could get four to eight inches of rain.

The Dominican president, Luis Abinader, said during a Sunday night news conference that the electricity company and government agencies had personnel “at the ready” to respond to emergencies.

In Puerto Rico, eventual rainfall totals could reach 12 to 16 inches, with local totals of 30 inches, particularly across eastern and southern Puerto Rico, forecasters said. The rain threatened to cause not only flash flooding across Puerto Rico and portions of the eastern Dominican Republic but also mudslides and landslides.

Heavy rains were still expected into Monday in Puerto Rico. Since Hurricane Maria in 2017, unreliable electricity has been a mainstay of life on the island, leading to a slow recovery and widespread protests by frustrated residents.

On Sunday, President Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, authorizing federal agencies to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

The storm surge and tide from heavy rains in Puerto Rico could flood normally dry areas along the coast, and forecasters warned that the water could reach one to three feet on the southern coast if the peak surge occurred at high tide.

The storm could bring four to six inches of rain to the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and up to 10 inches on St. Croix, forecaster said.

If the storm continues on a north-northwest track, it could affect the Bahamas, the Hurricane Center said.

Credit New York Times

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