HomeUSAPreliminary figures show Hurricane Fiona's impact on Puerto Rico: NPROUS News

Preliminary figures show Hurricane Fiona’s impact on Puerto Rico: NPROUS News

Playa Salinas is flooded after Hurricane Fiona passed through Salinas, Puerto Rico on Monday.

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Playa Salinas is flooded after Hurricane Fiona passed through Salinas, Puerto Rico on Monday.

Alejandro Granadillo/AP

In Puerto Rico’s wake of Hurricane Fiona’s Wall, communities are under water, bridges and roads have been destroyed, and many residents’ homes are unlivable. Early figures indicate a tough road ahead as residents attempt to recover.

According to Rachel Cletus, policy director for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, it will take some time for experts to have full control over the scale of the damage caused by Fiona.

“What we can be sure of from looking at some of these early images will be very, very important,” he said.

Here are the latest numbers:

1. Some areas of Puerto Rico received more than 30 inches of rain

A woman looks at her water-damaged belongings after Hurricane Fiona flooded through her home in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday.

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A woman looks at her water-damaged belongings after Hurricane Fiona flooded through her home in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday.

Stephanie Rojas / AP

According to data from the National Hurricane Center, the island was submerged by heavy rainfall.

Southern Puerto Rico was hit by 12 to 20 inches. During the storm, some areas received a maximum of about 3 feet of rain. Data shows that residents of northern Puerto Rico saw four to 12 inches of rain, with some areas receiving as much as 20 inches of rain. In the days following the storm, communities still received several inches of rain, and dealt with significant flooding.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Javier Becerra on Wednesday declared a public health emergency on the island due to the effects of floods from Fiona.

It follows President Biden’s disaster declaration.

2. Dozens to be rescued by the National Guard

A National Guardsman delivers water to residents of Punta Diamante in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

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A National Guardsman delivers water to residents of Punta Diamante in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

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In form of On Monday in the tough municipality of Caye, the Puerto Rico National Guard rescued 21 elderly and bedridden people in an abandoned home. According to the National Guard, the landslide threatens the structure of the house and the safety of residents. An infantry group in Mayagüez Municipality rescued 59 people from a flooded community. This includes two elderly people lying on the bed and 13 pets.

These are only in areas where rescue workers can reach.

“We don’t have a damage assessment yet, where people are able to move to some of the more remote areas that have been cut off completely to really understand the scale of the damage,” Cletus told NPR.

Puerto Rican emergency management officials told the Associated Press that several municipalities were still cut short on aid in the days following the storm, and it was unclear how badly residents were affected.

3. More than 900,000 are still without electricity

A man cooks in the dark after power goes out in the Condado community of Centaurus in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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A man cooks in the dark after power goes out in the Condado community of Centaurus in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Much of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure, particularly the island’s power grid, still faces difficulties that were exacerbated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. It took weeks or months to restore power in some areas. For example, a Puerto Rican journalist told NPR that he was without electricity for a year. And it remained unbelievable years later.

PowerOutage.us, which tracks service disruptions, says about 928,000 homes are in the dark as of Friday morning — about five days after Fiona hit.

4. Hundreds of thousands are still without water

A man walks along a flooded street in the Juana Matos neighborhood of Caetano, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Fiona.

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A man walks along a flooded street in the Juana Matos neighborhood of Caetano, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Fiona.

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As of Friday, government data showed that more than 358,000 customers (about 27%) were still without water service.

At one point this week, the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority reported that more than 760,000 customers had no water service or were dealing with significant blockages.

5. Puerto Rico’s Economy Could Take a Hit of Billions of Dollars

A man looks down a flooded street in the Juana Matos neighborhood of Caetano, Puerto Rico.

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Cletus believes that when experts are able to accurately calculate Fiona’s complete destruction, they will find a multi-billion dollar economic disaster.

Given Fiona’s strength and longevity, the economic impact on Puerto Rico would not be on the same scale as Hurricane Maria, which was Category 4 when it made landfall there. Maria took the lives of about 3,000 people and cost over $100 billion in damages. For comparison, Fiona was a Category 1 hurricane when it struck the island. (As it approached Bermuda, it has gained strength to a Category 4 hurricane.)

The problem is that Fiona arrived in Puerto Rico when she had yet to recover from the damage done by Maria, Cleitas said. He said the economic damage caused by this storm would be linked to problems still on the island that were worsened by Maria.

“Sometimes we focus on storms when they’re in the spotlight, and you see it as a unique phenomenon,” she said. “But it is the complex impact of these events that is really damaging to communities.”

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