Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the Dominican Republic on Monday after unleashing havoc in Puerto Rico, where the power grid was knocked out and residents suffered floods and landslides.
Maximum sustained winds at landfall in the Dominican Republic are estimated to be 90 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Significant flooding caused by the hurricane is being blamed for at least one death on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, a local official said. No deaths have been reported in Puerto Rico, but authorities say it is too soon to weigh the damage from the storm that is expected to unleash torrential rain across the region on Monday.
The U.S. territory is forecasted to receive up to 30 inches in its eastern and southern regions.
Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan, said it is “important people understand that this is not over.”
Morales explained that flooding has reached “historic levels” and authorities are evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across the region.
“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said.
Brown water flowed through streets and into homes and even consumed a southern Puerto Rico runway airport.
The hurricane tore up asphalt from roads and washed away a bridge in the town of Utuado, which police said was added by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017.
Hurricane Fiona also ripped off the roofs of several homes on the island.
The storm was centered 50 miles southeast of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph Sunday night, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Fiona was moving northwest at 9 mph.
Authorities are continuing to assess the damage endured from Fiona, and many residents are unsure when power may be restored.
The company Luma, which operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including 80 mph winds, had disrupted transmission lines on Sunday.
Health centers were running on generators, some of which had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews rushed to repair generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
More than 3,000 homes still have a blue tarp in place of a roof. Infrastructure, including the power grid, remains weak. Reconstruction only recently began and outages remain frequent.
More than 1,000 people with around 80 pets across the island were in need of shelter by Sunday night.
U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.
Fiona was forecast to strike northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Monday after making landfall in the Dominican Republic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.