Hurricane Fiona strikes Puerto Rico, knocks out power for Church members and neighbors across the island

The winds and rain from the storm also caused widespread flooding in the Caribbean

Once again, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands are working to recover from a catastrophic storm.

Hurricane Fiona struck the southwest coast of Puerto Rico on Sunday, Sept. 18, knocking out power to the island, causing flooding and landslides, and washing away roads and bridges.

Reports from the Church’s Caribbean Area presidency are that all full-time missionaries are safe and accounted for, with no known major damages reported to members’ homes or Church buildings so far. 

But the community is another story. Rivers overflowed their banks, and waters entered many homes. Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día reported winds up to 103 miles per hour, between 8 and 13 inches of rainfall, and hundreds of people evacuated and rescued. 

“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi in an Associated Press report.

Fiona struck five years after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria tore through the Caribbean — Maria killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the power grid when it hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017.

This time, the power company on the island believes it could take several days to fully restore electricity, as winds and rain continue to keep conditions too dangerous to evaluate the situation.

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Fiona’s path on Monday, Sept. 19, was expected to affect the Dominican Republic — a hurricane warning was posted for the eastern coast of that island — and then heavy rains were expected in northern Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

When the storm reached the French territory of Guadeloupe earlier in the weekend, one man was killed when the floods washed away his home. The storm also damaged roads and trees and bridges there, reported the Associated Press. 

On the island of Guadeloupe, missionaries and members of the Church joined their neighbors to help after the brunt of the storm had passed. Donning yellow Helping Hands shirts and vests, the members checked on residents, distributed bottled water and started to clean up flooded homes in the cities most affected by Fiona.

Local Church leaders reported that the mayor of the island was surprised and touched by the response. The president of the region also visited and asked who the Helping Hands volunteers were.

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