Hurricane Fiona lumbered slowly north Tuesday, strengthening into a Category 3 storm as it approached the Turks and Caicos Islands, having caused widespread damage in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
At least two people have died in Puerto Rico as a direct result of the storm: A 58-year-old man in Comerio died after being swept away by a river behind his home, and a man in his 30s died after inadvertently lighting his generator on fire while refueling it.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center warned Tuesday that parts of Puerto Rico could see an additional 1 to 4 inches of rain as Fiona departs. That’s on top of the 12 to 20 inches some areas have received, with some localities seeing as much as 35 inches of rain.
San Juan business owner Juan Miguel Gonzalez told CNN he’s seen more people lose their houses in Fiona than in Hurricane Maria in 2017, which caused more than 3,000 deaths.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “Maria was tough winds. But this one, with all the rain, it just destroyed everything in the house.”
Emergency responders are slowly working to restore utilities to the island, where more than 1.1 million people are without power, and officials told The Associated Press that 837,000 customers ― two-thirds of the island ― are without water.
In the Dominican Republic, one death has been reported so far and more than 1 million people were without running water Monday afternoon.