Hurricane Fiona hit the tiny British territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands at Category 3 strength on Tuesday morning, after devastating Puerto Rico.
Hurricane-force winds and torrential rains lashed Grand Turk Island, the Caribbean territory’s capital, after the government was forced to impose a curfew and asked people to flee flood-prone areas.
On Tuesday morning, Fiona’s eye was 40 miles (65 kilometers) north-northwest of Grand Turk, with gale-force winds extending up to 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the vortex.
Its maximum sustained winds were 185 kilometers per hour (115 miles per hour) and it was moving north-northwest at 15 km/h (9 mph), according to the US National Hurricane Center, which said it is The meteor is likely to further strengthen to a Category 4 hurricane on Friday as it approaches Bermuda. However, it was forecast to weaken before reaching far eastern Canada over the weekend.
“Storms are unpredictable,” Turks and Caicos Premier Washington Misick said in a statement from London, where he was attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. “Therefore, they must take all precautions to ensure their safety.” Misick was scheduled to return Thursday.
The storm continued to dump heavy rain on Tuesday over the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where a 58-year-old man died after being swept away by a river in the central mountain town of Comerío, according to police.
Another death was reported, associated with a blackout caused by the meteor. A 70-year-old man was burned to death when he tried to fill the generator with gasoline while it was running, according to authorities.
Parts of the island had received more than 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rain and more was falling Tuesday.
National Guard Brigadier General Narciso Cruz described the resulting flooding as historic. He said there were communities that were flooded by the storm that weren’t flooded by Hurricane Maria, which in 2017 caused nearly 3,000 deaths.
Cruz said 670 people were rescued in Puerto Rico, including 19 people in a nursing home in the northern mountain town of Cayey, which was in danger of collapsing.
Some people were rescued by kayaks and boats. Several even had to accommodate themselves inside the enormous shovel of an excavator in order to be taken to a higher area.
Cruz lamented that some people refused to leave their houses, but added that he understood them.
Fiona’s impact was most devastating for Puerto Rico as it has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which also destroyed the power grid. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island still have blue tarps as roofs.
Authorities said Monday that at least 2,300 people and about 250 pets remained in shelters around the island.
Fiona cut power when it hit the southwestern tip of Puerto Rico on Sunday, the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit the island in 1989 as a Category 3 storm.
By Tuesday morning, authorities said they had restored power to more than 286,000 users, on an island with 1.47 million network customers.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi warned that it could be several days before everyone had electricity.
More than 837,000 customers, two-thirds of the island’s total, were left without running water due to cloudy water at filtration plants or a lack of electricity, officials said.