Puerto Rico resident says Fiona impacting entire island

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2022 at 7:21 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Hurricane Fiona became the first landfalling hurricane of the 2022 season as it made land fall near Punta Tocan, Puerto Rico. The impacts to the island are widespread with catastrophic flooding from coast to coast.

“Fiona started like a small storm… but they were continuously telling us it would bring a lot of water. And we thought, well, a lot of water with Maria. We had Maria for 30 hours, raining heavy. But this time, the winds were smaller. They were lower than Maria because with Maria. We had almost 225 miles per hour winds. So it’s different,” Bishop Idalia Negrón Caamaño of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Caribbean Synod explains.

The impacts of Hurricane Maria which moved over the island in September of 2017 are still being felt.

“Last month [August] was the month that they started, the housing department started constructing houses on the south side of the island that were destroyed by Maria. I have people in the metro area that their houses were damaged and they have to tear them down to construct them in cement. And that was 5 years ago and the construction hasn’t started. We hear the mayor of San Juan say he still has 400 houses with tarps,” Negrón Caamaño relays.

Hurricane Maria was a strong category 4 hurricane when it slammed the island with sustained winds of 155 mph. The storm did bring significant amounts of rain with anywhere from 5 to 23 inches a localized areas up to 38 inches. The flooding was devastating. But Fiona is bringing even more rain and it’s more widespread.

“The flooded part is the worst part for our communities. All of the people of Puerto Rico are suffering from that,” says Negrón Caamaño. “From east to west. This is the first time that the whole island is in a catastrophic mode so I don’t know what we are going to do.”

Fiona made landfall in the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico. Because of the way the storm moved over the island, the south side is one of the hardest hit areas with the combination of flooding rain and storm surge.

“The south side of the island had never had a hurricane like this. The wind and the heavy rain. And what happened is that the Caribbean part, the Caribbean Sea what they have in the south. And they have had waves of more than 10 feet that have invaded their towns. So the water of the rain and at the same time the water of the sea that don’t let the rivers go out those are the real problems we are having today,” Negrón Caamaño explains.

But there is one positive spin on the hurricane passing over the Caribbean. The Virgin Islands have been in a drought. The islands missed out on the heaviest of the rain from Fiona, but they still got some much needed rain. Despite, the tough road ahead for her home, Bishop Negrón Caamaño is able to celebrate the good news for the neighboring islands.

“I give thanks to God because the Virgin Islands were hit by Fiona. But it was the last part because it was moving into the Caribbean Sea. And they had a drought. So they received this water like a blessing,” Negrón Caamaño proclaims.

If you would like to assist in the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico you can find more information at: Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief