As Hurricane Fiona moved through the islands south of Florida over the weekend, Puerto Rico lost electricity after the storm hit the island’s power grid on Sunday.
The National Hurricane Center alerted the region on Saturday that the coming hurricane would bring serious damage, including “life-threatening and catastrophic flooding along with mudslides and landslides across Puerto Rico.”
The Category 1 hurricane then hit Puerto Rico on Sunday and Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced that the whole island had lost power, The Hill reported.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Pierluisi gave a broad outline of some of the emergencies that the island was having due to Hurricane Fiona.
— Gobernador Pierluisi (@GovPierluisi) September 18, 2022
“LUMA Energy and the AEE (Electric Power Authority) report that due to the effect of the hurricane, the electrical system is currently out of service. The protocols have been activated according to the plans established to deal with this situation. Both LUMA and PREPA personnel are active and ready to respond to the situation once conditions allow,” Pierluisi’s statement read, according to an Axios translation from Spanish.
About 1.3 million customers were still without power on Monday morning, according to PowerOutage.us, a service that tracks power outages.
But due to the magnitude of the damage from Fiona, LUMA Energy also noted in a tweet on Sunday that it would likely take time to restore all the power throughout the island.
“We ask our customers for their support and patience as our LUMA crews work hard to restore power during this dangerous storm. We are coordinating with the NMEAD and other agencies, and we will continue to keep our clients informed,” the company tweeted.
Le pedimos a nuestros clientes su apoyo y paciencia mientras nuestras brigadas de LUMA trabajan duro para restablecer el servicio eléctrico durante esta peligrosa tormenta. Estamos coordinando con la NMEAD y otras agencias, y seguiremos manteniendo a nuestros clientes informados.
— LUMA Puerto Rico (@lumaenergypr) September 18, 2022
Pierluisi’s statement also noted that there was severe flooding and that agencies were responding to situations where anyone was in danger.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden also announced the hurricane as an emergency and ordered federal assistance to aid the response in the American territory, the White House reported.
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“The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population…” the White House brief read.
Though the National Weather Service San Juan downgraded the hurricane to a tropical storm on Monday, it also reported that parts of Puerto Rico had gotten as much as 25 inches of rain as the hurricane barreled through the region.
Early Monday morning, NWS San Juan tweeted a graphic showing the rainfall across the island.
[SEP 19] Rainfall amounts observed across Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands until 5 AM AST. Acumulaciones de lluvia observadas a través de Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes Americanas hasta las 5 AM AST. #PRwx #USVIwx pic.twitter.com/KqzbmjIWoM
— NWS San Juan (@NWSSanJuan) September 19, 2022
As Hurricane Fiona was moving away from Puerto Rico, it was headed for the neighboring island of the Dominican Republic, where it made landfall early Monday morning, Fox News reported.
The damage from Hurricane Fiona comes just as Puerto Rico approaches the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which is one of the worst to hit the U.S. territory in the last 100 years, NBC News reported.
Hurricane Maria landed on Sept. 20, 2017, in Puerto Rico and left residents without electricity for months.
As the warnings for Hurricane Fiona came, many were reminded of the devastation from 2017, NBC reported.
Sergio Marxuach, the policy director at the Center for a New Economy, which is a think tank based in Puerto Rico, just recently completed an analysis of Puerto Rico’s power system and noted that the island was still facing many of the same issues that it faced five years before when Hurricane Maria landed.
“Five years later, we are still exposed to the same risk. Progress will continue to be slow unless we find a solution,” Marxuach told NBC.
As one resident, Vanelis Rodriguez said, those who live in Puerto Rico have to always be ready for storms and power outages like what Hurricanes Maria and now Fiona brought.
“We live ready,” Rodriguez told NBC. “We always make sure we’re stocked with batteries, oil lamps, water.”