Predicted to become a category three storm, Fiona leaves deaths and destruction in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Residents have been ordered to take shelter on the Turks and Caicos Islands as an increasingly powerful Hurricane Fiona churns towards the Caribbean archipelago, leaving deaths and destruction in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
The strengthening category two storm, predicted to become a category three event by Tuesday afternoon with winds exceeding 111mph (178km/h), was on track to pass close to the eastern end of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday evening, before heading for the southern Bahamas.
Fiona dumped torrential rain on the Dominican Republic and left one person there dead on Monday after triggering major flooding in Puerto Rico, killing two and causing widespread power blackouts across both the Caribbean islands.
It was on course to become the first “major hurricane” of the 2022 season if it becomes a category three storm, according to the United States National Hurricane Center.
On the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British overseas territory with 40 low-lying coral islands and a population of about 40,000 that sits about 700 miles southeast of Florida, the government’s National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) told residents of the three eastern islands to shelter in place, and ordered businesses to close.
“All persons are to remain indoors at their residence, place of safety or where they seek shelter until the NEOC issues NATIONAL ALL CLEAR”, the agency told residents of Grand Turk, South Caicos and Salt Cay.
Residents were stocking up on food and water while shelters were being prepared. Foreign governments issued travel alerts for the islands, a popular tourist destination.
“Storms are unpredictable,” Premier Washington Misick said in a statement from London, where he was attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. “You must therefore take every precaution to ensure your safety.”
Misick was scheduled to return home on Thursday.
Similar preparations were under way in the eastern Bahamas. Fiona is on track to hit the eastern Bahamas on Wednesday when it could have reached category four strength.
In Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, residents were still facing strong winds, frequent lightning and heavy rain on Monday. Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, dumping up to 30 inches (76.2cm) of rain in some areas.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi has warned it could take days before everyone has electricity. Water service was cut to more than 837,000 customers – two-thirds of the total on the island – because of turbid water at filtration plants or lack of power, officials said.
The storm comes five years after Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria, which triggered the worst power blackout in its history and killed 3,000.
US President Joe Biden spoke with Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi on Monday, promising to increase the support personnel sent to the island over the next few days. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell will travel there on Tuesday.