San Juan, Puerto Rico — A storm Fiona was strengthening towards the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday as it threatened to strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane, prompting the government to impose a curfew.
Forecasters say Fiona could become a major storm late Monday or Tuesday, when it is expected to pass near British territory.
Premier Washington Misick said in a statement from London, where he was attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, “The storm is unpredictable. “Therefore, you must take every precaution to ensure your safety.”
Misick is expected to return home on Thursday.
Fiona was mid 80 miles (130 km) southeast of Grand Turk Island late on Monday. It had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 km/h) and was traveling 10 mph (17 km/h) north-northwest.
The intense storm continued to bring heavy rain over the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where a 58-year-old man was killed after police said he was swept away by a river in the mountain town of Comerio.
Another death was linked to a power outage – a 70-year-old man was burned to death after trying to fill his generator with gasoline while it was running, officials said.
The National Guard has rescued more than 900 people as floodwaters continue to flood through towns in eastern and southern Puerto Rico with up to 76 centimeters of rain forecast for some areas. Multiple landslides have also been reported.
The blow from Fiona is all the more devastating as Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island are still under siege. covered with blue tarps.
Authorities say at least 1,300 people and about 250 pets remain in shelters across the island.
Fiona caused a blackout when it made landfall in the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico on Sunday, the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which hit the island in 1989 as a Category 3 hurricane.
By Monday night, authorities said they had restored power to more than 114,000 customers on the island of 3.2 million people.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi has warned it could take days before everyone has power.
Water service was cut off to more than 837,000 customers – two-thirds of all customers on the island – because of turbid water at refineries or a lack of electricity, officials said.
Forecasts suggest that Fiona will develop into a major hurricane of Category 3 or higher. It was en route to pass near the Turks and Caicos islands on Tuesday and is not expected to threaten the US mainland.
In the Dominican Republic, authorities reported one death: a man who was crushed by a fallen tree. The storm displaced more than 12,400 people and cut off at least two communities.
The storm caused some highways to be closed and a cruise pier in the town of Miches severely damaged by high waves. Officials said at least four international airports were closed.
Dominica’s President, Luis Abinader, said authorities would need several days to assess the impact of the storm.
Fiona previously devastated the eastern Caribbean, killing a man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floodwaters swept away his home, officials said.