Hurricane Fiona makes landfall in the Dominican Republic

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the Dominican Republic early Monday after hitting Puerto Rico with heavy rains, life-threatening flooding and an island-wide power outage.

The Category 1 storm landed near Boca de Yuma at 3:30 a.m. with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

As the storm slowly moves northwest, it is still dropping torrential rains on Puerto Rico, where more than 1.4 million people are without power.

So far at least one death has been reported in the heavily damaged town of Basse-Terre, the capital of the French territory of Guadeloupe, the vice president of the territory’s environmental agency said sunday.

The hurricane made landfall on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico Sunday afternoon, laying on the island with high winds reaching up to 75 miles per hour and bringing 6 to 24 inches of rain to parts by the end of the day, according to the National Weather Service.

Fiona will continue to hit Puerto Rico and eastern parts of the Dominican Republic through Monday. Eastern regions of the Dominican Republic could also experience flooding as well as landslides and landslides in higher areas, according to the hurricane center. Fiona could bring a total of up to 30 inches of precipitation to Puerto Rico and up to 12 inches to eastern and northern Dominican Republic.

The hurricane is expected to strengthen once it passes over the Dominican Republic and is expected to move towards the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas on Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Turks and Caicos Islands are under hurricane warning and the southern Bahamas is under a tropical storm watch.

LUMA Energy, Puerto Rico’s main electric utility, said in a statement on Sunday that it could be days before power is restored, adding that “several transmission line outages” are contributing to the breakdown. The process will be done “gradually,” Governor Pedro Pierluisi said in a Facebook post.

The website reported that the entire island was without power early Monday morning, adding that LUMA had “reactivated some circuits, but information is limited and no figures on how many customers have been restored.”

Power outages have become a familiar crisis for many Puerto Ricans. Just five months ago, residents experienced another island-wide blackout after a fire broke out at a power station.

Parts of the island still bear the scars of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico almost exactly five years ago. After Hurricane Maria inflicted catastrophic damage to the territory’s infrastructure, it took nearly a year for power to be restored to the island.

Samuel Rivera and his mother Lourdes Rodriguez lived without power for about a year after Maria struck, Rivera told CNN’s Layla Santiago. On Sunday morning, they lost power again, evoking similar fears to those they had five years ago.

They said they were also worried that a nearby river could overflow and the trees surrounding their house could be knocked down by the strong winds.

As Hurricane Fiona made landfall on Sunday, most of Puerto Rico was under a flash flood warning ahead of the crushing downpour. The National Weather Service in San Juan warned of “catastrophic” and life-threatening flooding conditions.

Video of the dangerous flooding shows the rushing waters easily obliterating a bridge, washing its structure downstream. Another take by Samuel De Jesús depicts a scene in the town of Arecibo as the rain falls in sheets, adding to the rapid waters overtaking large construction vehicles and whole trees.

Many rivers on the east side of the island were in moderate to major flood levels Sunday afternoon, including a southeast river that rose more than 12 feet in less than 7 hours. On Sunday evening, the National Weather Service also issued flash flood warnings for southern portions of central Puerto Rico.

In response to the risk Puerto Rico faced, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration early Sunday to provide federal assistance for disaster relief efforts.

More than 300 FEMA rescue workers were on the ground responding to the crisis, the agency’s associate administrator for response and recovery, Anne Bink, told CNN.

“Our hearts go out to the residents who are going through yet another catastrophic event five years later,” Bink said, nodding on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria. This time, she said, FEMA plans to implement lessons learned from the 2017 crisis.

“We were much better prepared. We have four warehouses now strategically located across the island, which include staples, exponentially larger supplies than in the past,” she said.

“We’re there proactively – and well in advance of any storm – to make sure we coordinate. And all the planning efforts we put in during those blue sky days can be put to good use when the rain comes down.”