Hurricane Fiona has left a trail of destruction across Puerto Rico, knocking out the US island territory’s power while dumping torrential rain and wreaking catastrophic damage before making landfall in the Dominican Republic.
Landslides, blocked roads, fallen trees and power lines, as well as a collapsed bridge in the town of Utuado in the central mountainous region, were part of the destruction already caused by Fiona in Puerto Rico, Governor Pedro Pierluisi told an evening news conference.
The hurricane carried maximum sustained winds of 144km per hour (90 miles per hour) as it hit the Dominican Republic on Monday morning, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Twitter.
“Life-threatening flash and urban flooding is likely for eastern portions of the Dominican Republic,” the NHC said in a morning advisory.
Before Fiona’s arrival, Dominican President Luis Abinader suspended work and the island placed 13 of its 32 provinces, located to the north and east, on red alert.
In Puerto Rico, where residents were left without power as the hurricane neared, the island’s electricity company said on its website on Monday that it had “reenergized some circuits” but did not have numbers on how many people were receiving electricity.
The NHC downgraded Fiona to a tropical storm in Puerto Rico but warned that destructive rain and devastating flash floods could continue to hit the island.
Fiona will go down as a “catastrophic event due to the impacts of flooding” in Puerto Rico’s central, eastern and southern regions, Pierluisi tweeted, adding that 230-330mm (9-13 inches) of rain had fallen in just five hours.
The hurricane also left about 196,000 people without drinking water as a result of power outages and flooded rivers, officials said.