Monday, October 3, 2022

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Hurricane Fiona heads for Turks and Caicos, killing 3

Fiona is projected to be a Category Three storm, causing death and destruction in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Residents have been ordered to seek shelter in the Turks and Caicos Islands as a mounting Hurricane Fiona rushes toward the Caribbean archipelago, leaving death and destruction in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The strengthening Category 2 storm, which is expected to become a Category 3 event with winds in excess of 178 km/h by Tuesday afternoon, was on track to pass near the eastern end of the Turks and Caicos Islands Tuesday evening before turning set off southern Bahamas.

Fiona unleashed torrential rain on the Dominican Republic, leaving one person dead there on Monday after triggering major flooding in Puerto Rico, killing two and causing widespread power outages on both Caribbean islands.

If it becomes a Category Three storm, it was on track to become the first “major hurricane” of the 2022 season, according to the United States National Hurricane Center.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British Overseas Territory with 40 low-lying coral islands and a population of about 40,000 located about 700 miles southeast of Florida, the government’s National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) called for residents of the three eastern islands to take refuge established and the closure of shops ordered.

“All individuals are required to remain indoors in their place of residence, place of safety, or where they are taking shelter until NEOC NATIONAL issues ALL CLEAR,” the agency told residents of Grand Turk, South Caicos and Salt Cay.

While shelters were being prepared, residents stocked up on food and water. Foreign governments issued travel warnings for the islands, a popular tourist destination.

“Storms are unpredictable,” Premier Washington Misick said in a statement from London, where he was attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. “You must therefore take every precaution to ensure your safety.”

Misick was scheduled to return home on Thursday.

Similar preparations were underway in the eastern Bahamas. Fiona is on track to reach the eastern Bahamas on Wednesday when she could have matched fourth category strength.

In Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, residents were still confronted with strong winds, frequent lightning and heavy rain on Monday. Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico Sunday afternoon, dropping up to 30 inches of rain in some areas.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi has warned it could be days before everyone has power. Water supplies have been disrupted for more than 837,000 customers — two-thirds of the island’s total — due to cloudy water in filtration systems or power shortages, officials said.

The storm comes five years after Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, which triggered the worst power outage in its history and killed 3,000 people.

US President Joe Biden spoke to Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi on Monday and vowed to ramp up the support staff deployed to the island over the next few days. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell will travel there on Tuesday.

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