Hurricane Fiona slams Puerto Rico as southeast buckles down against wrath of Hurricane Ian


Photo courtesy of NPR

Damage from Hurricane Fiona could take months of clean-up

Isaiah Dupree, Managing Editor

Millions of people in Canada, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have been left without power in the wake of Hurricane Fiona, which made landfall on September 14. 

Just days following the crisis in the Caribbean, Hurricane Ian also made landfall, this time in southwest Florida, which had been evacuated days before the winds began.

The hurricane has resulted in the deaths of 21 people, mostly in Puerto Rico according to Yahoo, and has caused over 100 million dollars of damages in Puerto Rico alone, according to NPR. Unfortunately, the energy crisis in Canada and the Caribbean is far from being over.

It’s going to take days. For scale, this morning in Nova Scotia, 4 in 5 customers have lost power and nearly all households on Prince Edward Island,” said NPR reporter Emma Jacobs when asked about the timeline for restoring power in East Canada. “The head of the utility in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Power, Peter Gregg, said this afternoon that conditions still weren’t even safe for technicians to go up in their bucket trucks in some areas”.

The Caribbean is no stranger to brutal natural disasters. Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Michael in Cuba were all within the last 2 decades. But according to residents of Puerto Rico, Fiona is unlike anything the island has seen before.

“I’ve never seen this in my life, not even in Maria,” Puerto Rican resident Ada Belmont Plaza told the New York Times. When asked about the flooding caused by Fiona, Puerto Rican resident Medina Cardona said “This time around, it was even worse than in Maria.”

The overwhelming sentiment coming from Puerto Rico in the wake of Fiona, though, is a sense of frustration with the Puerto Rican/American government and with LUMA Energy, the company that runs Puerto Rico’s energy grid. 

Puerto Rican Dennis Rodríguez told the New York Times, “Do you think it’s fair that you pay so much to not have electricity?… I can bet you that the power bill will arrive on time”.

Puerto Rico has long struggled with an unstable electrical grid. In 2020, after Hurricane Maria, FEMA allocated 12.6 billion dollars to rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid. However, according to ABC News, only 7.1 million (0.05%) of this budget was spent on permanent solution’s to Puerto Rico’s power issues. Many believe that the issues regarding Puerto Rico’s power grid begin at the top.

Cynthia Burgos López the executive director of a hurricane relief organization based in Puerto Rico, La Maraña, said “Being a colony from the States, we have a lot of money that’s being sent all the time to Puerto Rico, but we have such a corrupt government, that nothing gets to the communities.”

Regardless of the source of Puerto Rico’s issues, one thing remains the same across the entire island. Puerto Ricans are sick and tired of living in one of the most hurricane prone regions of the world without any form of relief closeby. 

“I think Puerto Ricans are very tired of hearing that word. They don’t want to be resilient. They just want to have, you know, working power grid” Puerto Rico resident Danica Coto said in a story published by NPR. “There was sort of this general expectation of Puerto Rico is going to be bounced back faster from Fiona than Maria. And that sort of, you know, was a big letdown and big frustration. And more than anything, people are feeling that even after Fiona even after, you know, the recovery phase that nothing will change.”