After destroying roads and bridges throughout Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona left hundreds of people stuck there.
Four days after the hurricane hit the U.S. territory and caused catastrophic flooding, authorities still have trouble finding them.
Government officials have collaborated with religious organizations, nonprofits, and others while navigating landslides, deep mud, and crumbling pavement on foot to deliver food, water, and medicine to those in need. However, they are under pressure to open a road soon so that vehicles can reach remote areas.
Fiona, which made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 1 hurricane and strengthened to a Category 4 storm Thursday as it moved toward Bermuda, cut off portions of at least six municipalities across the island, according to Nino Correa, commissioner of the island’s emergency management agency.
Since Fiona made landfall on Sunday, Manuel Veguilla claimed he has been unable to leave his neighborhood in the Caguas mountain town in the north.
Veguilla had heard that city officials might open a path on Thursday, but he didn’t think it would happen because big rocks were blocking the 10-foot area beneath a nearby bridge.
He stated that on Wednesday, an older woman’s son was able to return with minimal supplies on foot.
Neighbors have shared food and water left by nonprofit organizations.
Veguilla claimed that he and others used picks and shovels to clean the wreckage in the wake of Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that slammed five years ago and left over 3,000 people dead. Fiona, on the other hand, caused enormous landslides.
Veguilla had no access to electricity or water following Fiona, like hundreds of thousands of other Puerto Ricans, but claimed that a natural water source was close by.
When Fiona struck the southwest of Puerto Rico, which was already struggling to recover after a string of powerful earthquakes in recent years, it caused an island-wide blackout. Four days after the hurricane, 62% of 1.47 million customers were still without power, and the National Weather Service issued a severe heat alert.
Nearly 500,000 consumers, or 36% of all customers, lacked access to water.
Since the federal government authorized a major disaster declaration and declared a public health emergency on the island, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has dispatched hundreds of additional workers to assist local officials.
Officials from the local and federal governments have not yet offered any estimates of the total damage caused by the storm, which sometimes dumped up to 30 inches of rain.
Forty-eight animals and more than 470 people were still housed in shelters.
Fiona first devastated the Dominican Republic after Puerto Rico, and as it grew stronger, it raged over the Turks and Caicos Islands. Although the storm’s eye passed quite close to Grand Turk, the small British territory’s capital island, on Tuesday, officials there reported comparatively minor damage and no fatalities.
Fiona was expected to pass close to Bermuda late on Thursday or early on Friday before making landfall in eastern Canada and the United States on Saturday. Said the National Hurricane Center.
According to the center, Fiona’s top sustained winds on Thursday morning were 130 mph (215 kph). It was 455 miles (735 kilometers) southwest of Bermuda and moving at 13 mph in a north-northeast direction (20 kph).
For Bermuda, a hurricane watch was in place.