SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Fiona made landfall along the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico, near Punta Tocon, on Sunday with winds of 85 miles per hour, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
The hurricane unleashed dangerous winds and dumped torrential rain on the island, resulting in life-threatening flooding and mudslides. Water service was cut to more than 837,000 customers — two thirds of the total on the island — because of turbid water at filtration plants or lack of power, officials said.
All of Puerto Rico lost power. Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi described the damage as “catastrophic” and warned that it could take days to get the lights back on.
Pierluisi activated the Puerto Rico National Guard as the hurricane approached the island. Since the start of the storm, troops have rescued more than 900 people, Gen. José Reyes said in a news conference.
Tito Class lives in Sacramento. He says he usually visits family members in Puerto Rico. Since Hurricane Fiona made landfall, he says he's been struggling to get in contact with some loved ones to ensure their safety.
"We have family members that are in need," Class said. "I started calling my family members and trying to see if there was a way that we could try to stay in contact with each other. The truth of the matter is, everything relies on power."
Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island are still covered by blue tarps.
Hispanic Federation (HF) is a nonprofit organization on a mission "to empower and advance the Hispanic community, support Hispanic families and strengthen Latino institutions through work in the areas of education, health, immigration, civic engagement, economic empowerment & the environment."
HF has been helping to provide long-term recovery in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria through more than 90 projects with nonprofit agencies, local foundations, municipal governments and corporations. That includes rebuilding homes, health centers and farms, supply solar panels, and more. HF also committed at least $30 million to support groups and initiatives across the island.
"Once more, the island has been battered," said Ingrid Alvarez, vice president for policy and strategic engagement for the Hispanic Federation. "If the public can, we urge that a monetary donation be made and 100% of those proceeds go directly to the trusted community-based organizations already on the ground."
Class is preparing to support Puerto Rico too. He's the owner of Lola's Lounge in Sacramento. He says the Puerto Rican restaurant will hold a fundraiser to help families - like his - devastated by the storm. The date and time for the fundraising event, however, is still in the planning stage. Once confirmed, the information will be posted to the restaurant's Facebook and Instagram page in the coming days.
"I just hope that Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans understand that we're with them and we will do whatever we have to do to reconstruct again," Class said. "Estamos abrazados con ustedes (We are embracing you)... Y que viva Puerto Rico (And long live Puerto Rico)."