By: Dalet Valles
Published By: The Chimes Newspaper
Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 17, whipping up dangerous winds and cutting electricity and running water. The day after the hurricane struck Puerto Rico, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration. Many other islands and some U.S. states are expecting Hurricane Fiona to make landfall, as well.
HARM OF THE HURRICANE
Hurricane Fiona is pummeling Puerto Rico, leaving many areas in ruins. The major storm created a wave of darkness after the island’s power supply went out. In addition, some locals even struggle to maintain their water supply or find running water.
Some Biola students have relatives in Puerto Rico that have been experiencing the hardships of Hurricane Fiona.
“Trees, electricity and phone lines have broken down across streets and the water lines are expected to fail at any given point,” said sophomore Bible, theology and ministry major Victoria Nieves. “They do not know how long the power will be gone, especially since the power lines were not adequate from previous hurricanes. They know the generators will not last forever.”
Nieves’ family told her that the power has been out for around three days. Though many residents have prepared for hurricane season by installing generators and collecting water, it has still negatively impacted many lives.
“Some of my family experienced the power outage and still currently are without power,” said junior cinema and media arts major Caitlyn Palermo. “Others have added solar panels in their homes after the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, so they were fortunate enough to maintain power throughout the storm. Some still lost internet connection despite having solar panels.”
Dangerous winds and floods are destroying Puerto Rico. The National Hurricane Center reported that maximum winds have reached 115 miles per hour.
“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Governor Pedro Pierluisi in an address to Puerto Rico.
ASSISTANCE AND RELIEF
President Biden has approved assistance and relief to be given to the United States Commonwealth, Puerto Rico. The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating with Puerto Rico’s government to assist municipalities’ attempts in aiding residents.
“This emergency declaration allows FEMA to assign missions to other federal agencies to support and fulfill emergency needs during incident operations following a declaration,” said Robert Little III, Federal Coordinating Officer for response and recovery operations, on the FEMA website.
FEMA will afford 75 percent federal aid. This will help with floods, medical care and search and rescue, among other ways of assistance. Some residents and family members of Puerto Ricans that are here in the United States question when and how this will happen.
“They do not hold out on the government sending aid to them any time soon, especially if the landslides block the road,” said Nieves. “It certainly is help; it is better than doing nothing. I am not sure how exactly it is going to help given that all aircraft besides government helicopters are not able to go in and out of the island.”
Hurricane Fiona is expected to go north in the following days. It has already hit the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos islands and is expected to approach Bermuda all the way up to eastern Canada. CNN projects that the hurricane will not strike the United States’ east coast.