Hurricane Fiona continues 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 650 miles southwest of Bermuda, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 2 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 Sunday, blacking out the entire island still trying to rebuild after the devastating Hurricane Maria. More than 1 million customers remain without power Wednesday, according to PowerOutage.us. Much of the area also lost running water.
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, including 18-year-old Aurielys Esther Jimenez, 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, including 58-year-old Gilberto Ayala Aponte, who drowned in a flooded river, and 70-year-old José Cruz Román, who died in a fire accidentally sparked while he was trying to fill his generator.
The U.S. State Department Tuesday 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 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.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also announced plans to send 100 state troopers to Puerto Rico to help with the recovery efforts.
Speaking at a press conference in Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Eric Adams and a phalanx of other city officials confirmed that a team of specialists from the city Department of Emergency Management officials have 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 deploy 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 to the island. “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 to 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 number two 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.”