Chilling video footage has emerged that shows a heavy metal bridge being swept away by the force of water in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona came ashore on Sunday afternoon. This comes amid reports of vast amounts of damage being reported across the island of Puerto Rico. Videos show roads being washed away and newly constructed bridges being ripped.
The bride in the video was built in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 and was one of the heaviest bridges in the country but couldn't withstand the force of the water and was swept up in seconds. Moreover, the island is without electricity.
Following Hurricane Maria in 2017, even recently built bridges were washed away, turning roads into roaring floods. Once again, the entire island is without electricity, leaving its 3.2 million population in complete darkness. Home roofs were torn off by the violent wind, and landslides were also triggered by the torrential rain.
Videos posted by reporters, onlookers, and local officials show the bridge on Puerto Rico Highway 123 in the hamlet of Utuado being ripped free of its anchors and swept downstream by raging flood waters.
In some videos, metal railings by the roadside could be seen being lifted out of the ground and dragged behind the bridge. According to Puerto Rico lawmaker Roberto Lefranc Fortuo, the bridge was first put in installed in 2018 after Hurricane Maria destroyed the previous crossing.
According to the US National Hurricane Centre, Fiona made landfall 15 miles to the south-southeast of Mayaguez with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. It was traveling at 9 mph toward the northwest.
It came as the US National Hurricane Centre (NHS) warned of "catastrophic flash and urban flooding" across Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic, which lies further along the path of the storm.
Island in Darkness
President Joe Biden gave approval for a state of emergency earlier on Sunday. Ports in Puerto Rico have been shut down, and flights out of the main airport have been canceled. According to the White House, the emergency declaration gives the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the authority to coordinate disaster relief efforts and offer emergency safety measures.
Officials from the US Energy Department stationed in Puerto Rico, according to US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, will help with restoration efforts "as it becomes safe to do so." As the Caribbean was inundated by torrential rainfall, Fiona was nearing hurricane strength.
Clouds from the storm enveloped the entire island, and gusts with tropical storm force reached 140 miles from Fiona's center. At 2:00 PM EDT, Governor Pedro Pierluisi tweeted that "the electrical system is currently out of service. Protocols have been activated according to plans established to address this situation."
Additionally, Pierluisi declared on Sunday that government offices and public schools will be closed on Monday.
"The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic," he said.
When it hit the island in 2017, Hurricane Maria was the most powerful storm Puerto Rico had experienced in almost 90 years. It completely destroyed entire neighborhoods and left nearly 3,000 people dead.
A month later, over 88 percent of the island was still without energy, affecting about 3 million people. It completely wrecked the power grid.
According to LUMA spokesman Abner Gomez, who spoke during a press conference in the city of San Juan on Sunday night, the entire electrical system had first been shut down to protect its infrastructure. According to him, attention was being given to hospitals and other vital community services while some electricity was being restored.
Health centers relied on generators, some of which had broken down. At the Comprehensive Cancer Centre, personnel are working to repair generators as soon as possible, according to Health Secretary Carlos Mellado.