(CNN) — Hurricane Fiona continues its ruinous trajectory on Tuesday after devastating Puerto Rico with torrential rains and then devastating the Dominican Republic, where more than a million people were left without running water and dozens of houses were destroyed.
Nearly 800 people were brought to safety by emergency workers in the Dominican Republic, according to the country’s director of emergency management operations, Juan Manuel Méndez. At least 519 people took refuge in the country’s 29 shelters on Monday, he said.
The eye of the hurricane hit the country early Monday, lashing communities with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), the National Hurricane Center said. That’s after the storm wreaked havoc across Puerto Rico on Sunday and Monday, leaving the US territory in a blackout and bringing destruction not seen on the island since Hurricane Maria in 2017, officials said.
At least three people were killed by bad weather, including one in the French territory of Guadeloupe and two in Puerto Rico, according to authorities.
In Puerto Rico, a 58-year-old man was swept away by a swollen river behind his home in Comerío and another man in his 30s died in a fire that occurred while trying to put gasoline in his generator while it was running, authorities said.
As of this Monday afternoon, at least 1,018,564 clients throughout the Dominican Republic did not have access to running water, as 59 aqueducts were out of service and several others were only partially working, according to José Luis Germán Mejía, a national management official. of emergencies.
Some also lost power on Monday as 10 electrical circuits went out of service, emergency management officials said. The number of people affected by the outages is unclear.
Fiona grows stronger as she moves north
Fiona intensified into a Category 3 storm as it moved off the north coast of the Dominican Republic early Tuesday, with sustained winds of up to 115 miles per hour (185 kilometers per hour) and gusts of up to 210 km. /h (130 m/h), according to the hurricane center.
The designation now classifies Fiona as a major hurricane, the first of the season in the Atlantic.
But the most powerful stages of the storm may be yet to come, as Fiona is expected to become a Category 4 hurricane when it passes near or west of Bermuda on Thursday night.
According to forecasts, the center of the storm will continue to move north and move near or east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday.
Hurricane conditions are likely in the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday and the Bahamas are expected to be under tropical storm conditions by early Tuesday, according to the hurricane center.
Puerto Rico devastated
Even as the tropical storm watch was lifted over Puerto Rico, the island continued to be lashed by the hurricane’s outer bands, drenching regions already struggling under dangerous flooding and destruction.
As Tuesday marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s catastrophic landfall, some who lived through the 2017 crisis say the destruction from Fiona’s flooding could be even more severe.
Juan Miguel González, a business owner in Puerto Rico, told CNN that his neighborhood was not yet done recovering from Maria when Fiona struck. But this time, he says, the flood brought even deeper damage to his homes.
“A lot of people — more than (during) Maria — lost their houses now… they lost everything in their houses due to the flood,” González told CNN’s Leyla Santiago. “Maria had strong winds. But this one, with all the rain, just destroyed everything in the house.”
Most of the damage inflicted on the island is related to rain, Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi told CNN Monday night.
More than 1.2 million customers were still in the dark as of early Tuesday, according to estimates from PowerOutage.uswhich notes that up-to-date information on restoration efforts is limited.
Pierluisi said he expects power to be restored to most customers in “a matter of days.” The company that oversees the territory’s power grid, LUMA Energy, previously said transmission line outages were contributing to the blackout, and on Monday said it had restored power to more than 100,000 customers.
This Monday, power was restored in one of the most important medical facilities in Puerto Rico, according to the territory’s health secretary, Dr. Carlos Mellado López.
“The power system in all the hospitals of the Medical Centers Complex has been restored,” Mellado said in a tweet this Sunday night. “Our patients are safe and receiving the medical care they need.”
Many of those without electricity are also without water, as rains and flooding affected filtration systems, leaving only 35% of customers with water service as of Monday, the governor said.
Emergency teams battled the incessant rain to rescue some 1,000 people until noon Monday, said Maj. Gen. José Reyes, adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard.
In addition to the hundreds of members of the Puerto Rico National Guard helping in the rescue and recovery efforts, the White House reported Monday that President Joe Biden told Pierluisi during a phone call that federal support will increase in the coming days. .
“As damage assessments are completed, the President said the number of support staff will increase substantially,” the White House said.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul also announced that the state will send 100 state police officers to help with relief efforts in Puerto Rico. She also said teams from the New York Power Authority are available to help restore power.
CNN’s Leyla Santiago in San Juan, Puerto Rico and CNN’s Nikki Carvajal, Robert Shackelford, Melissa Alonso, Artemis Moshtaghian, Taylor Ward, Holly Yan and Jamiel Lynch contributed to this report.