October 1, 2022

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Montgomery Co. FEMA team heads to Puerto Rico

3 min read

No deaths had been reported, but authorities in the U.S. territory said it was too early to know the full scope of damage from the expansive storm.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Emergency crews in Montgomery County are headed to Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Fiona. A spokesperson said the FEMA Urban Rescue Task Force, a team of about 35 people, were headed to the United States territory.

Hurricane Fiona knocked out power across all of Puerto Rico, causing damage the governor said was “catastrophic.”

No deaths had been reported, but authorities in the U.S. territory said it was too early to know the full scope of damage from an expansive storm that was still forecast to unleash torrential rain across Puerto Rico on Monday.

Up to 30 inches (76 centimeters) was forecast for Puerto Rico’s southern region. As much as 15 inches were projected for the eastern Dominican Republic.

“It’s important people understand that this is not over,” said Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

He said flooding reached “historic levels,” with authorities evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across the island.

“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

Before dawn on Monday, authorities in a boat navigated the flooded streets of the north coast town of Catano and used a megaphone to alert people that the pumps had collapsed, urging them to evacuate as soon as possible.

Brown water rushed through streets, into homes and consumed a runway airport in southern Puerto Rico.

Fiona also ripped asphalt from roads and washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police said was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017 as a Category 4 storm.

Fiona hit Puerto Rico on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into the island in 1989 as a Category 3 storm, and two days before the anniversary of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria — from which the territory has yet to fully recover.

That hurricane caused nearly 3,000 deaths and destroyed the power grid. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof.

Authorities announced Monday that power had been returned to 100,000 customers on an island of 3.2 million people, but power distribution company Luma said it could take days to fully restore service.

U.S. President Joe Biden had declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

RELATED: Fiona nears Dominican Republic after pounding Puerto Rico

RELATED: 1 year later, flood sensors not installed near apartment where 19-year-old drowned in flash flood

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2022-09-19 14:49:33

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