Hurricane Fiona unleashed more rain on Puerto Rico on Monday, a day after the storm knocked out power and water to most of the island, and National Guard troops rescued hundreds of people who got stranded.
The governor warned that it could take days to get the lights back on.
The blow from Fiona was made more devastating because Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island are still covered by blue tarps.
The storm stripped pavement from roads, tore off roofs and sent torrents pouring into homes. It also took out a bridge and flooded two airports.
Authorities reported two deaths from the hurricane — a Puerto Rican man who was swept away by a flooded river and a person in the Dominican Republic who was hit by a falling tree.
The storm was still expected to dump up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain in some places as it spun away from the US territory that is home to 3.2 million people.
Forecasts called for the storm to grow into a major hurricane of Category 3 or greater. It was on a path to pass close to the Turks and Caicos islands on Tuesday and was not expected to threaten the US mainland.
One death in Puerto Rico was associated with the blackout — a 70-year-old man who was burned to death after he tried to fill his generator with gasoline while it was running, officials said.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi declined to say how long it would take to fully restore electricity, but he said for most customers it would be “a question of days.”
Since the start of the storm, National Guard troops have rescued more than 900 people, Gen. José Reyes told a news conference.
Meanwhile in the Dominican Republic, authorities closed ports and beaches and told most people to stay home from work. Nearly 800 people were evacuated to safer locations, and more than 700 were in shelters, officials said.
The hurricane left several highways blocked, and a tourist pier in the town of Miches was badly damaged by high waves. At least four international airports were closed, officials said.
The Dominican president, Luis Abinader, said authorities would need several days to assess the storm’s effects.
Back in Puerto Rico, the National Weather Service office said flash flooding was occurring in south-central parts of the island and tweeted, “MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY!”
https://t2m.io/f9GmNNC https://t2m.io/xKnfSfm https://t2m.io/wyo3yTq https://t2m.io/2d219hV https://t2m.io/u8V6RVc https://t2m.io/j6dcT9x https://t2m.io/cEk8zfF https://t2m.io/SH9oArC https://t2m.io/0FiFmpi https://t2m.io/mSyo5c1 https://t2m.io/C8MU1yv https://t2m.io/WSgCwpX https://t2m.io/bxoikMz https://t2m.io/v4O7tKQ https://t2m.io/39PSc0A https://t2m.io/icC0jir https://t2m.io/1npcMqZ https://t2m.io/8UFDEWS https://t2m.io/phxUWoU https://t2m.io/T8yLVsU https://t2m.io/ZifZuDr https://t2m.io/XviJhBa https://t2m.io/F2fUSSJ https://t2m.io/kwAzZ5E https://t2m.io/Sf3CTcN https://t2m.io/BSuSz3C https://t2m.io/ZAw0REg https://t2m.io/jRGLsZs https://t2m.io/EJZw3zx https://t2m.io/TXn235M https://t2m.io/qyBib7T https://t2m.io/yro2mDe https://t2m.io/TbOFTjU
Up to 22 inches (56 centimeters) of rain fell in some areas of Puerto Rico, and forecasters said another 4 to 8 inches could fall as the storm moves away, with even more possible in some places.
“It’s important people understand that this is not over,” said Ernesto Morales, a weather service meteorologist in San Juan.
He said flooding reached “historic levels,” with authorities evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across Puerto Rico.
“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” Pierluisi said.
Water service was cut to more than 837,000 customers — two thirds of the total on the island — because of turbid water at filtration plants or lack of power, officials said.
Before dawn Monday, authorities in a boat navigated the flooded streets of the north coast town of Catano and used a megaphone to alert people that the pumps had collapsed, urging them to evacuate as soon as possible.