The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘Catastrophic’ damage, power outages as storm pummels Puerto Rico

All of Puerto Rico was without power after Hurricane Fiona made landfall on Sept. 18, causing “catastrophic flooding” and landslides. (Video: Reuters)

Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said Monday that Hurricane Fiona has caused “catastrophic” destruction in urban areas, killing at least two people and leaving nearly the entire island archipelago without power.

The slow-moving storm dumped over 32 inches of rain near Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest city, according to a rain gauge maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey. Downpours capable of producing flash floods were expected to continue well into Tuesday, according to officials and radar readings. The governor estimated “billions” in damage.

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Deanne Criswell is expected to travel to Puerto Rico on Tuesday. Her visit will coincide with the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that left Puerto Rico in the dark for months, killing more than 3,000 people. The federal government set aside billions for reconstruction, but the sluggish recovery has left the territory’s communities vulnerable.

The Atlantic hurricane season

The latest: The 2022 season started out slow, but has rapidly intensified this fall with conditions prime for storms. Fiona brought severe flooding to Puerto Rico before making landfall in Canada, and now we’re tracking Hurricane Ian as it heads for Florida. For the seventh year in a row, hurricane officials expect an above-average season of hurricane activity.

Tips for preparing: We rounded up seven safety tips to help you get ready for hurricanes. Here’s some other guidance about keeping your phone charged and useful in dangerous weather, and what to know about flood insurance.

Understanding climate change: It’s not just you — hurricanes and tropical storms have hit the U.S. more frequently in recent years. And last summer alone, nearly 1 in 3 Americans experienced a weather disaster. Read more about how climate change is fueling severe weather events.