Hurricane Fiona landed on Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast on Sunday afternoon.
Social media videos show flooding in parts of the island triggered by the violent storm.
Rising global temperatures are contributing to more intense storms, according to a growing body of research.
Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico on Sunday, causing an islandwide blackout and severe flooding. The landing of the storm coincides with the 5 years of the devastating hurricane Maria in 2017, from which the territory has yet to fully recover.
According to National Hurricane Centerthe Category 1 storm landed on Puerto Rico’s southwestern coast at around 3:20 pm local time ET on Sunday, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.
“The damage we are seeing is catastrophic,” Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Local officials confirmed that at least one person died after being carried away by a stream of water, according to the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día. In a separate incident, firefighters in the city of Arecibo said a man died of burn injuries after attempting to fill his gasoline generator.
National Guard officials said around 1,000 people were rescued by emergency teams by noon Monday, according to CNN.
As the hurricane hit the island, brown water rushed through the streets and into the houses. More than a foot of rain has soaked the island in several locations, and a reporting station has reported more than 2 feet of rain in the past 24 hours. Almost the entire island remains under flood warning.
On Sunday morning, US President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency on the island as the storm approaches, ordering federal assistance to complement the disaster response efforts.
A video from a flooded area in Arecibo shows a door-to-door search and rescue operation, with many people refusing to leave their homes.
The storm knocked down electricity transmission lines, leading to “an island-wide blackout,” according to a press release from LUMA Energy, the private company that manages power transmission and distribution in Puerto Rico. The company said it could take days to fully restore the service.
On Monday morning, the head of Puerto Rico’s Aqueducts and Sewers Authority said 750,000 customers have no water on the island following the hurricane.
Fiona barred an island that was already fragile after Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that damaged homes, destroyed the power grid and caused nearly 3,000 deaths. More than 3,000 homes still have only one blue tarp as a roof.
Another video captures the moment when the gusts of wind from Hurricane Fiona tear the roof of a house in Ponce, in the southern part of the island. It is not known if anyone was home at the time.
Human-caused climate change is making hurricanes like Fiona more dangerous, according to a growing body of research. Earth’s warmer, wetter atmosphere and warmer oceans provide fuel for hurricanes, causing more intense precipitation and wind speeds.
“Catastrophic and life-threatening floods” are expected to continue in most parts of Puerto Rico, the The National Hurricane Center said so.
After crashing in Puerto Rico on Sunday, Hurricane Fiona moved to the Dominican Republic on Monday morning. The The National Hurricane Center said so “Hurricane conditions” were expected to continue over parts of the Dominican Republic on Monday.
This story has been updated with new information.
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