Officials in Puerto Rico say it's too early to estimate the damage from Hurricane Fiona as the storm was still punishing the island with torrential rain and "historic" flooding this morning.
The powerful storm arrived Sunday afternoon dumping up to 30 inches of rain, unleashing dangerous floodwaters, landslides, and knocking out the power grid.
#GOESEast is closely monitoring #HurricaneFiona, which made landfall in Puerto Rico near Punta Tocon yesterday afternoon and caused catastrophic flooding and power outages. #Fiona is lashing the Dominican Republic today.
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 19, 2022
In one mountain town, rushing water washed away not only a bridge but ripped down the power poles and guardrails connected to the bridge from the ground, taking everything connected to the structure downstream.
The Category 1 storm came ashore with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, lashing the U.S. territory that is still recovering from a string of strong earthquakes and 2017's Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and left millions without food and basic necessities.
Puerto Rico's Gov. Pedro Pierluisi says the experience with Maria helped the island prepare.
"That's why people are very responsive and they cooperate because they remember, they still remember Maria. And nobody wants that happening again and including the aftermath. So this is all hands on deck," Pierluisi said.
The island government's response to Maria turned into a fiasco when a thousand pallets of water bottles sent by FEMA for storm victims were found undelivered, sitting out in the sun at a former naval base.
The current governor is pledging a better response. "I don't want any loss of life here," Pierluisi said. "Once that's taken care of, then restoring the electric service."
Operation Blessing's disaster team is actively assessing the damage in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona. To aid in the disaster relief effort, call 1-800-700-7000, or text "OB Crisis" to 71777. You can also click here to give to the aid effort.
The White House approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, freeing up federal resources for emergency response and disaster relief efforts.
Heavy rain and storm surge flooding is expected for the Dominican Republic, as Fiona turns north.
It's expected to stay clear of the U.S. East Coast, but could threaten Bermuda later this week. Fiona is only the third hurricane in 2022 after a very quiet opening to the Atlantic Hurricane Season.