Dominican Republic hit as storm gets stronger

Dominican Republic hit as storm gets stronger

A man pulls a tree that has fallen on the road

Roads in the Dominican Republic are blocked

Hurricane Fiona continues to intensify, US forecasters say, which has already claimed at least five lives in parts of the Caribbean.

Forecasters say the category three storm, with winds of 115 mph (185 kph), could worsen to category four — the second-highest designation.

Rain has plagued Puerto Rico, where at least two people have died and 80% of the island is without power.

Two deaths have also been reported in the Dominican Republic.

An 18-year-old girl died after being struck by an electric pole knocked down by high winds, while a man was killed by a falling tree in the northeastern city of Nagua.

President Luis Abinader has declared three eastern provinces of the Dominican Republic as disaster areas amid warnings from the NHC of “heavy rainfall and life-threatening flash flooding”.

The hurricane hit Grand Turk island in the Turks and Caicos Islands local time Tuesday morning, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported there, but residents were advised to remain on site as the power cuts and flooding caused by heavy rain continued into the afternoon.

Several villages in the country were shut down as water rose, hundreds of people were forced to leave their homes and thousands were left without power.

Lexie Wilcox, who lives in Altagracia’s easternmost province, said it was the worst hurricane she’d experienced and hit her area much harder than Hurricane Maria in 2017, which killed nearly 3,000 people in neighboring Puerto Rico.

By Monday morning, trees had fallen, roads blocked and a lot of flooding.

Mrs. Wilcox said she couldn’t sleep and spent the night mopping up rainwater.

She and her neighbors have no electricity and believe it could take several days for the storm to set in.

The connection returned for a few minutes Monday, just long enough to show Ms Wilcox, who is Canadian, the end of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral as the hurricane raged outside.

The NHC previously warned of “catastrophic flooding”. Fiona made landfall there on Sunday, causing not only flooding but widespread landslides and mudslides.

The storm caused an island-wide power outage that providers warned could take days to fix.

Puerto Rico’s electrical grid remains fragile after the island was devastated five years ago by Hurricane Maria — the most powerful storm in its history.

An estimated 1.3 million homes and businesses in Puerto Rico are currently without power, Reuters news agency reported.

Energy supplier LUMA Energy said it had restored services to more than 100,000 customers and staff was working to get power back for others. The company said “full restoration could take several days”.

Ramon Luis Nieves, a lawyer in the capital San Juan who had no power at his home, told Reuters that his experience after Hurricane Maria had been “terrible”. “They promised it would be better. It’s not,’ he said.

Some parts of the island face the prospect of 35 inches (89 cm) of rain as the storm passes.

US President Joe Biden promised to scale up support for the US territory after a meeting with the governor.

The victims in Puerto Rico were a 58-year-old man who died after being swept away by a river, while another in his 70s died in a generator fire.

One death was also recorded on the French island of Guadeloupe.

Storm conditions have been forecast in the Bahamas, while people in Bermuda have been advised to keep an eye on Fiona’s progress.

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