NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico’s southwest coast on Sunday, unleashing landslides and knocking out power for a million people after it made landfall.
Now it has made landfall in the Dominican Republic, and it is expected to cause more damage.
The hurricane has a lot of people in Puerto Rico and in Connecticut as well thinking about how devastating Hurricane Maria was back in 2017.
Hurricane Fiona has already caused catastrophic flooding along with powerful mudslides in Puerto Rico. Winds reached 85 miles per hour and hundreds took shelter.
Victor Rodriguez is a lecturer at the University of New Haven. He moved to Connecticut from Puerto Rico in 2016. When Fiona reached the islands, he thought of his friends and family back home.
“My mom lives in an apartment building with my sister,” he said. “Obviously, the apartment buildings are a little scary with the high winds but also safer with the flash flooding.”
Around 3 p.m. on Sunday, power was knocked out for more than 1.5 million customers in Puerto Rico.
Fiona struck just two days before the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a devastating Category 4 storm that caused nearly 3,000 deaths and destroyed the island’s power grid. Rodriguez worries Puerto Rico’s power grid can no longer handle bad storms.
“The system is so fragile, and this happens so often, that when these events come, it’s just going to make it worse,” he stated.
Fortunately for those in Puerto Rico, Fiona moved away from the islands and is brushing by the Dominican Republic before heading out to the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.
News 8’s Sam Kantrow said that Fiona is a Category 1 storm and shouldn’t be as bad as Hurricane Maria.
“I expect the damage is going to be really bad because 85 mph winds are something very serious, but the difference, in this case, is it will probably be weeks for them to repair things as opposed to months or in the instance of Maria it was years actually,” Kantrow said.
Some forecast models show that Puerto Rico will get 10 or more inches of rainfall in a short period of time and it could cause catastrophic flooding, especially on islands that can’t handle that much rain.