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

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 power transmission and distribution of Puerto Rico last year, said dangerous weather conditions made it difficult to fully assess the situation. The company warned full restoration of power could take several days due to the magnitude and scope of the outage.

There were confirmed reports that some circuits had been reenergized, said the tracking group PowerOutage.US, but there was limited information and no source on the number of people who had their power restored as of Sunday evening.

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 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 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.

Five years ago, Hurricane Maria also completely took down Puerto Rico’s power grid, and it took 11 months for Puerto Rico to restore power. The 2017 storm devastated the island and the government’s handling of it was deemed inadequate, according to an internal assessment by FEMA.

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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