Puerto Rico still bogged down by Hurricane Fiona with not much electricity or water: NPR | Pro IQRA News

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Getting into the cocoa community is a challenge. Route 157 was cleared after major landslides caused by Hurricane Fiona prevented access.

Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR


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Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR


Getting into the cocoa community is a challenge. Route 157 was cleared after major landslides caused by Hurricane Fiona prevented access.

Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR

Orocovis, Puerto Rico – Hundreds of thousands of people across Puerto Rico are still waiting for water and electricity to be restored in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. Fiona was just a Category 1 hurricane when it hit. But it moved slowly, dropping more than 30 inches of rain in some areas, and flooding washed away roads and isolated some mountain communities.

In the town of Orokovis, a mudslide blocked a major road, making it difficult for residents to get food, water, and other necessities. Soon a local construction company got up and running, removing tons of soil, vegetation, and rocks that were blocking the road. By Thursday, one lane was cleared to allow some trucks carrying food, water and fuel to reach the city.

People line up in Orocovis for food and other supplies distributed by a member of the National Guard and the family management in Puerto Rico.

Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR


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Other roads in the area collapsed when the ground beneath them was swept away. In Cocoa, a small group of homes scattered in the mountains, hundreds of people were stranded when the road connecting them to the Orocovices collapsed. Local authorities surveyed the damage, declared it unsafe and closed the road. But the residents soon persuaded them to open a temporary road so that they could at least reach Orokovice.

Orokovice residents line up at the community sports amphitheater. People like Jesus “Tito” cologne use any type of container—gallon jugs and tanks—to fill their drinking water.

Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR


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Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR


Orokovice residents line up at the community sports amphitheater. People like Jesus “Tito” cologne use any type of container—gallon jugs and tanks—to fill their drinking water.

Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR

Herbert Acosta, a civil engineer, was part of Thursday’s crew to stabilize the road. “Right now, we’re putting up barriers on both sides to make it safe,” he said. But he has concerns that more rain could lead to additional flooding and lead to a complete collapse of roads. “We will monitor it every day to see how it is,” he said.

To make matters worse, Orocovis is one of many communities in Puerto Rico that are still waiting for electricity and water to be restored. At the community’s small sports stadium, people lined up to fill jugs, barrels, and cisterns with clean water pumped from tank trucks. Residents say it’s a familiar routine. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, some were left without water service for six months.

The Puerto Rican Family Administration and the National Guard distribute food at the intersection of the Orocovis community.

Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR


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Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR


The Puerto Rican Family Administration and the National Guard distribute food at the intersection of the Orocovis community.

Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR

The Puerto Rican National Guard has been working on isolated communities, distributing food and other supplies to residents who have difficulty getting into the city. “We’re just trying to spread a little happiness in the midst of all this chaos,” said Corporal Alexis Cruz.

Puerto Rico’s Water Authority says service has been restored to more than two-thirds of its customers. The island’s electricity company says about 40% of its customers now have electricity. But in Orokovis, residents are skeptical about the governor’s and other leaders’ assurances that electricity and water services will soon be restored. As he waited for the water in the sports field, Marcelino Casciano repeated a frequent refrain, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Four days after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico, it’s still slowly passing through many parts of the island. First responders drive cautiously through State Route 155 that runs from Coamo to Vega Baja via Orocovis and Morovis and is currently clearing after landslides have blocked access.

Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR


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Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR


Four days after Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico, it’s still slowly passing through many parts of the island. First responders drive cautiously through State Route 155 that runs from Coamo to Vega Baja via Orocovis and Morovis and is currently clearing after landslides have blocked access.

Gabriella N. Bayes for NPR

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