Residents and first responders could only watch helplessly as floodwaters overtook the town’s bridge and washed it downstream.
On Sunday (Sept. 18) afternoon, Hurricane Fiona hit the island of Puerto Rico. A metal bridge that was built in the aftermath of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria has been ripped away.
The temporary bridge was installed in 2018. Videos shared on social media showed the bridge on Puerto Rico’s Highway 123 in the town of Utuado being torn out of its moorings and washed downriver by surging flood waters. “It’s impossible to wash away a bridge with extreme flash flooding! Hurricane Fiona was a strong one that dumped a lot of rain water at Puerto Rico that swept away the bridge with flowing flood waters!,” said Twitter user @AllenAcNguyen.
It's impossible to wash away a bridge with extreme flash flooding! Hurricane Fiona was a strong one that dumped a lot of rain water at Puerto Rico that swept away the bridge with flowing flood waters! ~Allen https://t.co/tMfN8YOA2n
— Allen Nguyen (@AllenAcNguyen) September 19, 2022
Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico with winds that reached nearly 86 mph and intense rain causing major damage to the infrastructure. It sweeped across the island and away off its western edge towards the Dominican Republic and the open sea beyond. As reported by The NY Post, Puerto Rico is expected to receive several inches of rain through Tuesday (Sept. 20), raising concerns about flooding and mudslides. Southern Puerto Rico could see 12-18 inches of rain, with some areas receiving as much as 30 inches of rain.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi said the whole island’s electrical system was “out of service due to the effects of the hurricane,” affecting nearly 1.5 million households. Luma, Puerto Rico’s power transmission and distribution company, stated, “Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering our capacity to evaluate the complete situation.”
This disaster is just five years after Hurricane Maria. It was the worst and strongest storm Puerto Rico has experienced in nearly 90 years when it struck the island in 2017, causing extensive damage that destroyed neighborhoods and killed nearly 3,000 people. It wrecked the power grid so thoroughly that one month afterwards, about 88 percent of the island was still without electricity, which affected about 3 million people.