- Advertisment -
HomeNationalJoe Biden has vowed not to walk away from US hurricane-hit Puerto...

Joe Biden has vowed not to walk away from US hurricane-hit Puerto RicoTAZAA News

- Advertisment -

US President Joe Biden says the full force of the federal government is ready to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastation of Hurricane Fiona.

At a briefing with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials in New York, Mr Biden said: “We’re all in this together.”

Mr. Biden noted that hundreds of FEMA and other federal officials are already on the ground in Puerto Rico, where Fiona has caused an island-wide blackout.

More than 60% of electricity customers remained without power Thursday and a third were without water — and local officials acknowledged they could not say when service would be fully restored.

Mr. Biden said his message to the people of Puerto Rico, which is still reeling from Hurricane Maria five years ago: “We are with you. We are not going away.

It appeared to be at odds with former President Donald Trump, who was widely accused of an inadequate response to Maria, which left some Puerto Ricans without power for 11 months.

The hurricane is expected to remain at Category 4 strength overnight as it moves closer to Bermuda, where officials have opened shelters and announced schools and offices will be closed Friday.

Fiona’s outer bands reached the British mainland on Thursday afternoon.

It is expected to become an even larger and dangerously powerful storm as it approaches Canada’s Atlantic provinces late Friday as a post-tropical storm.

“This will be the storm everyone remembers when it’s all said and done,” said Bob Robichaud, preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

Hundreds of people were stranded on the road in Puerto Rico four days after the hurricane hit the US territory, and frustration was mounting for people like Nancy Galarza, who tried to signal for help from work crews far away.

“Everybody goes there,” she said, pointing to the crew at the bottom of the mountain, who were also helping others out of the storm.


Neighbors work to retrieve their belongings after Hurricane Fiona caused flooding in the Los Sotos neighborhood in the Dominican Republic (Ricardo Hernandez/AP).

“No one comes here to see us. I am concerned about all the elderly people in this society.

At least five landslides cover the narrow road to her community in the steep mountains surrounding the northern town of Caguas. The only way to reach the base is to climb over thick mounds of mud, rock and debris left by Fiona, whose floodwaters shake the foundations of nearby houses with earthquake-like force.

At least one elderly woman dependent on oxygen was evacuated Thursday as city officials worked under pouring rain to clear routes into a San Salvador community.

At least eight of the 11 communities in Caguas are completely isolated, said Luis Gonzalez, municipal inspector of recovery and reconstruction.

It is one of at least six municipalities where crews have yet to reach some areas. Following Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm in 2017 that killed nearly 3,000 people, people there often rely on help from neighbors.

Puerto Rico’s government said 62% of its 1.47 million customers were without power Thursday. A third of consumers, or more than 400,000, still do not have water service.

“Many homes and businesses are still without power,” Mr. Biden said in New York, adding that additional utility crews were set to go to the island to help restore power in the coming days.

The executive director of Puerto Rico’s Electric Energy Authority, José Colón, told a news conference that areas least affected by Fiona should have power until Friday morning.

But officials declined to say when power would be restored to hard-hit areas and said they were working first to get power to hospitals and other critical infrastructure.

Neither local nor federal government officials have estimated total damage from the storm, which dumped up to 30 inches of rain in some areas.

Fiona has caused at least five deaths so far – two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe.

Fiona also hit the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, but officials there reported relatively little damage and no deaths.

The Ultimate Managed Hosting Platform