Natural Disasters

Floods, landslides devastate Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona

Hurricane Fiona completely disrupted the island’s water supply and power network

Published: Wednesday 21 September 2022

Hurricane Fiona, gusting at 85 miles an hour, has caused unprecedented flooding in Puerto Rico and has left millions of people without power and drinking water.

The storm which hit these US-administered groups of Islands in the Caribbean on September 18, 2022, has thus far left a wave of sheer destruction.

"The damage we are seeing is catastrophic," reported the Associated Press, quoting Puerto Rico's Governor Pedro Pierluisi.

Weather forecasters have estimated that over 30 inches ( 762 mm) of rain has fallen since the hurricane hammered the islands on Sunday. Flood waters from the storm swept away roads and bridges, entering airports and rising as high as the first floor of houses.

Personals from National Guard and Municipal Emergency Management Services have rescued thousands of residents, a lot of whom have been stuck on their rooftops.

Hurricane Fiona completely disrupted the island's water supply and power network, with close to 850,000 households without potable drinking water.

The water filtration systems have collapsed either because of muddy flood water or due to lack of electricity. As of September 20, 2022, close to 1.3 million households in Puerto Rico had no electricity.

Hurricane Fiona is now travelling west and centred over the Dominican Republic. But flooding in Puerto Rico continues as heavy rains hammer down on this US territory.

Strong winds of over 40 Miles per hour are still battering the southern territories, which have been worst affected by the hurricane. In 2017, Hurricane Maria battered these islands, inflicting massive damage to its power grid. Many residents who had not been able to repair their houses destroyed by Maria now face a double whammy.

Hurricane Fiona hit two days before the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Maria. Various climate models have predicted that climate change will strengthen Atlantic hurricanes and intensify rainfall.

The IPCC, in its sixth assessment report, linked the intense rainfall caused by Hurricane Harvey to anthropogenic climate change. In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas and Louisiana bringing along over 1000 mm of rainfall over four days and causing $125 billion worth of damages. 

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