New York Daily News

Fiona stronger, targets Bermuda

Category 4 storm leaves at least 4 dead in Puerto Rico, D.R.

- BY CHRIS SOMMERFELD­T AND KATE FELDMAN

Hurricane Fiona continued marching north through the Caribbean, leaving blackouts and flooding in its wake.

The storm was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday with winds up to 130 mph as it sits about 615 miles southwest of Bermuda, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. update. By late Thursday, Fiona is expected to reach Bermuda, which is currently under a hurricane watch.

Fiona could continue to strengthen, forecaster­s said Wednesday.

The storm made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday, blacking out the entire island still trying to rebuild after the devastatin­g 2017 Hurricane Maria. More than 1 million customers remained without power Wednesday, according to PowerOutag­e. us. Much of the island also lost running water, and Puerto Ricans waited in long lines Wednesday to get water from trucks. At least one truck ran out of water before everyone could get some.

After laying waste to Puerto Rico, Fiona continued north, touching down in the Dominican Republic and then swirling up to Turks and Caicos.

At least four people have been killed so far. They include two in the Dominican Republic, an 18-year-old who was hit by a falling power pole, and a man who was knocked over by a tree toppled by strong winds, and two in Puerto Rico: a 58-year-old who drowned in a flooded river, and a 70-year-old man, who died in a fire accidental­ly sparked while he was trying to fill his generator.

The U.S. State Department urged visitors to “reconsider travel” to Bermuda this week and announced the voluntary departure of any family members of government officials who are stationed there.

FEMA Administra­tor Deanne Criswell landed in Puerto Rico on Tuesday to “assess the devastatio­n ... and determine the additional resources needed to support the island’s recovery.”

“Our partnershi­p with the government of Puerto Rico has never been stronger and we remain committed to helping them respond to and recover from Hurricane Fiona,” she said in a statement. “We’re sending hundreds of additional personnel in the next few days to place staff in each of the affected communitie­s to supplement our already vast footprint.”

Emergency personnel from New York are also being deployed to storm-battered island.

Gov. Hochul announced plans to send 100 state troopers to help with the recovery efforts.

Mayor Adams on Wednesday confirmed that a team of specialist­s from the city Department of Emergency Management have also arrived in Puerto Rico to assess storm damage and determine how New York can help.

A second team of 11 city officials, including members of NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit, will head to the island later this week, officials said. The plan is for them to work alongside local emergency authoritie­s with recovery efforts, like reconnecti­ng electricit­y grids for smaller municipali­ties and removing downed trees.

“We’re here to help,” Adams said at the Department of Emergency Management’s headquarte­rs. “New Yorkers have made it clear: These are our brothers and sisters. These are our families, and we’re going to do everything possible to be there for them during this devastatin­g time.”

Adams declined to say if the city plans to send any direct monetary aid. “This is the first step, get down there and do an assessment,” he said.

Eligio Jaquez, counsel general of the Dominican Republic, which was also hit by Fiona, told reporters at the press conference that aid efforts like New York’s are critical for the region.

“This tragedy is obviously incredibly, incredibly stressful for our entire population and every hand helps,” he said in Spanish.

Adams was asked if the current circumstan­ces are better or worse as compared with Hurricane Maria.

“Well, one, we have a president that identifies Puerto Rico as part of our country,” Adams replied, referring to former President Donald Trump’s contentiou­s relationsh­ip with the island. “And No. 2 is coordinati­on that we’re going to do not only with my office, but the governor’s office and with FEMA. The coordinati­on is crucial.”

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 ?? ?? Neighbors in Higuey, Dominican Republic, try to salvage belongings after Hurricane Fiona ripped through the island. Below, a fallen tree hangs on electrical wires in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Neighbors in Higuey, Dominican Republic, try to salvage belongings after Hurricane Fiona ripped through the island. Below, a fallen tree hangs on electrical wires in Salinas, Puerto Rico.

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