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Hurricane Fiona Situation Report #3, 22 September 2022

Puerto Rico (The United States of America)
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  • Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday, September 18 as a Category 1 hurricane, dropping as much as 32 inches of rain in some areas.

  • More than 1 million Puerto Ricans remain without power; more than 35% of customers have no running water.

  • About 1,000 people have been rescued from their homes, and 93 shelters are open to house those displaced by the storm.

  • Hurricane Fiona has developed into a Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of about 130 mph, as it approaches the island of Bermuda.

Hurricane Fiona made landfall on Puerto Rico on Sunday, September 18, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and torrential rain—nearly five years to the day after Hurricane Maria devasted the island. More than 1 million customers remain without power as of Wednesday morning, while more than 35% of households lack access to water as severe flooding has impacted filtration plants. On Wednesday, President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Puerto Rico, releasing additional federal funds for the response.

After strengthening from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane on Sunday, Fiona dropped as much as 32 inches of rain in some regions of Puerto Rico before tracking westward toward the Dominican Republic. As floodwaters rose on Sunday and Monday, emergency responders rescued about 1,000 people across Puerto Rico. Four people on the island have been killed, according to FEMA.

Our Team Lead in Puerto Rico reports that every corner of the island has been heavily affected by Fiona, and that record rainfall and landslides caused massive damage to infrastructure and widespread flooding, leaving communities across the island without access to basic necessities such as shelter, clean water, electricity and healthcare. Another team member, who lives in the western inland town of Utuado (where a bridge built after Hurricane Maria was swept away by high flood waters on Sunday), has reported that the town is inaccessible, and that municipal government and emergency teams are working to restore access.

In addition to power and water outages, internet and mobile phone reception is weak, making communication challenging.
In the heavily affected southern portion of the island, many families are still displaced from the 2020 earthquakes, placing them at greater risk from the impact of this weekend’s storm.

As of Wednesday morning, 93 shelters were open in response to the storm and are currently housing 1,077 occupants.
All hospitals on the island are operational, with 53 of them running on generator power.