The first major hurricane of the Atlantic season this year has killed at least five people in the Caribbean: one in Guadeloupe, two in Puerto Rico and two in the Dominican Republic.
“It was something incredible that we had never seen before,” Ramona Santana from Higuey, Dominican Republic, told CNN en Español. “We are on the street without anything, without food, without shoes, without clothes, only with what is on our backs … We have nothing. We have God, and hope for help will come.”
With steady winds of 130 mph now blowing, the center of Fiona should pass west of Bermuda early on Friday, according to CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford, with conditions beginning to deteriorate on Thursday. The island nation is threatened by a hurricane; Americans have been warned not to go there, and relatives of US government employees may leave, the State Department said.
“The National Hurricane Center is confident that Bermuda will experience tropical storm winds,” Shackelford said. “After Fiona passes Bermuda, the storm is forecast to hit Nova Scotia by Saturday afternoon.”
In the Canadian province, residents should prepare for conditions similar to tropical storms or even hurricanes starting Friday evening by securing outdoor items, pruning trees, charging mobile phones and building an emergency kit, said Jason Mew, director of emergencies. management office. According to him, the shelters will be open to the homeless and anyone who needs it.
The Canadian Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for Nova Scotia from Hubbard to Brule, Prince Edward Island, Madeleine Island and the Newfoundland coast from Parson Pond to Port-au-Basques.
Hurricane Fiona “could be Canada’s version of Sandy,” Canadian forecasters warned, comparing the size and intensity, and the combination of a hurricane and a more wintery storm like a northeasterly one.
A tropical storm watch has also been issued for several coastlines in Atlantic Canada, including from Brûlée West to Cap Madeleine, Quebec, and Anticosti Island.
According to Environment Canada, Canada’s national weather service, residents of Atlantic Canada must be prepared for extended utility outages and structural damage to buildings.
“Fiona will be a historic event for Atlantic Canada,” said Brian Tang, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Albany.
As of Thursday, 495,000 customers, about 38%, have electricity in Puerto Rico, according to LUMA Energy, which manages the island’s power grid.
According to Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority Executive President Doriel Pagan Crespo, about 890,000 customers, or 67% of all users, currently have running water.
In the Dominican Republic, where Fiona moved to land early Monday morning, 725,246 customers are without running water and more than 210,000 homes and businesses were without power on Wednesday, said Major General Juan Mendez Garcia, director of the country’s emergency operations center.
More than 2,260 homes have been destroyed and some communities have been cut off from aid, he said.
Electrical problems dog Puerto Rico
According to her, when Fiona got to the Dominican Republic in the middle of the night, Iveris Viera threw herself into waist-deep water to wake her neighbors in Higuey.
Now she is trying to dry her clothes.
“The rooms are empty. I had to throw away a lot. There is no electricity or water to wash anything,” Viera told CNN en Español.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico has made some progress in the area of aid.
President Joe Biden approved a major natural disaster declaration for the United States on Wednesday, FEMA reported. The move allows residents to access grants for temporary housing and home renovations, as well as low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses.
But the crews faced setbacks in restoring power. Equipment problems have temporarily shut down lines believed to have been repaired, Josue Colón, executive director of the Puerto Rico Electricity Authority, said Wednesday.
More than 800 people were housed in dozens of shelters across the island on Wednesday, Puerto Rico’s Housing Minister William Rodriguez said.
The mayor of New York sent city agency officials to Puerto Rico to help officials assess the damage.
“The panel will include representatives from the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYCEM), the New York City Department of Buildings, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and the New York City Department of Design and Building,” the press release reads. . from city hall.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday his authorization for relief and recovery for Puerto Rico, including the deployment of 74 New Jersey State Troopers and a civilian doctor.
Fiona also threatened parts of the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday, and many areas of British territory were still without electricity on Wednesday, namely Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, said Anya Williams, acting governor of Great Britain. islands.
Officials were relieved that no one died in the storm, they said, as they began visiting the islands and making repairs.
CNN’s Melissa Alonso, Jessica Hasbun, Jorge Venegas, Amy Simonson, Chris Boyett and Jamiel Lynch contributed to his report.