Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Hurricane Fiona becomes a Category Four Hurricane, leaving over a million without power and hundreds of thousands without water


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Hurricane Fiona, a Category (Cat) 4 major hurricane is moving north towards Bermuda at approximately 8 miles per hour (mph), with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, as of 8:00 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time (AST). Currently the storm is moving away from the Turks and Caicos Islands with hurricane force winds reaching outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical storm winds extending outward up to 160 miles.

Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern and central Bahamas are experiencing swells generated by Fiona and they will continue to spread westward across the Atlantic toward the east coast of the United States (US) during the next day or two. These swells may cause life threatening surf and rip current conditions.

NHC Coastal Watches/Warnings and Forecast Cone for Storm Center: NOAA

The NHC is predicting some additional strengthening tonight with fluctuations in intensity starting on Thursday, September 22. Tropical storm winds are expected, and hurricane conditions are possible, in Bermuda starting late Thursday or early Friday. Fiona is expected to affect portions of Atlantic Canada as a powerful hurricane-force cyclone late Friday night and into Saturday, September 24. The storm may produce significant impacts from high winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall. 


Fiona passed over Turks and Caicos as a Cat 3 hurricane on the morning of September 20, first hitting Grand Turk before battering its smaller islands a few hours later. The hurricane caused heavy rains, flooding, and power outages, just as it did in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. According to Turks and Caicos Deputy Governor Anya Williams, there were power outages on five of the islands, but no deaths reported as of the morning of September 21. As Hurricane Fiona moved away from Turks and Caicos, it strengthened into a Cat 4 hurricane.

According to the NHC, parts of Puerto Rico saw more than 30 inches of rain, causing flooded rivers, flash floods, landslides, and roads to be cut off. As of 9:30 a.m. ET on September 21, almost 75 percent of customers in Puerto Rico were still without power according to PowerOutage.us. The hurricane cut off most residents from clean water, leading President Joe Biden to declare an emergency and call on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate relief for the island. As of September 21, there have been four fatalities reported in Puerto Rico as a direct result of Hurricane Fiona.

Fiona hit the Dominican Republic on the night of September 19 as a Cat 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour. The island faced more than 20 inches of rain which forced the evacuation of 12,500 people from their homes and left 709,000 without power. Currently there have been three reported fatalities in the Dominican Republic.

Be Prepared for a Landslide: Ready.gov

FEMA provides resources for individuals, families, and businesses to prepare for, stay safe during, and recover from major disaster events like hurricanes. Storm surges that cause major flooding are especially dangerous and life-threatening impacts of hurricanes and so it is crucial to know how to stay safe during a flood. FEMA urges individuals under a flood warning to seek safe shelter immediately, which may include evacuating, moving to a higher ground or floor level, or staying where you are based upon the guidance provided by the Emergency Alert System (EAS), NOAA Weather Radio or local emergency alert notifications. FEMA also reminds individuals experiencing flooding to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” – six inches of moving water is all it takes to knock a person down and vehicles can be swept away by just one foot of water. Major flooding also increases the likelihood of landslides and debris flow which may pose severe risks to human life, land, and property. FEMA urges individuals to stay alert to instructions from their local emergency management agency and to evacuate the area and move uphill as quickly as possible if in the path of a landslide. It is important to understand the warning signs, risks, and safety guidance associated with both fast- and slow-moving landslides.

Twitter: Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority

During a power outage, FEMA encourages individuals to keep refrigeration sources closed, disconnect appliances to avoid damage from electrical surges, and to keep up to date on heating, cooling, and other sheltering locations offered in the community. Power outages introduce many risks to the safety and wellbeing of a community including disrupting access to communications, transportation, and other essential services. 

Additionally, in the midst of and in the aftermath of a disaster, access to drinking water may be limited or cut off. Under these circumstances it is important to reduce activity levels and stay cool as best as possible in order to limit water intake while consuming the amount of water your body needs; to avoid drinking contaminated water for as long as possible; and to limit the consumption of carbonated and caffeinated beverages which may lead to increased dehydration. Based upon the guidance of local emergency officials it may be necessary to treat water to ensure it is safe to use for drinking, food preparation, or other household needs. 

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates.