Hurricane Fiona made landfall on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico on Sunday evening.
Videos from social media show flooding in parts of the island triggered by the fierce storm.
Rising global temperatures contribute to more intense storms, according to a growing body of research.
Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico on Sunday, triggering an island-wide blackout and extensive flooding. The storm’s landfall coincides with the 5-year mark of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria – from which the territory has yet to fully recover.
According to the National Hurricane CenterThe Category 1 storm made landfall on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico around 3:20 pm ET local time on Sunday, with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour.
“The damages we are seeing are catastrophic,” said the Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, on Sunday, according to The Associated Press.
Local officials confirmed that at least one person died after being swept away by a stream of water, according to Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día. In a separate incident, firefighters in the city of Arecibo One man said he died from burn wounds after trying to fill his generator with gasoline.
National Guard officials said emergency crews had rescued about 1,000 people by midday Monday, according to CNN.
As the hurricane entered the island, the brown water ran through the streets and into homes. More than a foot of rain has lashed the island in some places, with one reporting station reporting more than 2 feet of rain in the past 24 hours. Almost the entire island is under flood warnings.
On Sunday morning, United States President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency on the island as the storm approached, ordering federal aid to augment disaster response efforts.
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 brought down electricity transmission lines, leaving the entire island “a shell,” according to a press release from LUMA Energy – the private company that operates power transmission and distribution in Puerto Rico. The company said it could take days to fully restore service.
On Monday morning, the head of the Puerto Rico Water and Sewer Authority said that 750,000 clients on the island are without water after the hurricane.
Fiona lashed an island that was already vulnerable after Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that damaged homes, knocked out the power grid, and left nearly 3,000 dead. More than 3,000 houses still have only a blue tarp as a roof.
Another video shows the moment gusts of wind from hurricane Fiona tear off the roof of a house in Ponce, on the south side of the island. It is not known if anyone was in the house at the time.
Human-caused climate change is making hurricanes like Fiona more dangerous, according to growing research. Earth’s warmer and moister atmosphere and warmer oceans provide fuel for hurricanes, resulting in more intense rain and wind speeds.
“Disastrous and life-threatening flooding” is predicted to continue across most of Puerto Rico, the The National Hurricane Center said.
After slamming into Puerto Rico on Sunday, Hurricane Fiona moved into the Dominican Republic on Monday morning. The IS The National Hurricane Center said on Monday that “hurricane conditions” were expected to continue over parts of the Dominican Republic.
This story has been updated with new information.
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