Hurricane Fiona, now a Category 4 storm and the first Major Hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic season, continues to churn across the Caribbean as those in its wake confront the destruction. The storm lashed Turks and Caicos Tuesday, but as of Tuesday evening no major damage had been reported other than outages in the islands’ telecommunications. At least two people have been reported killed in the Dominican Republic, and more than 1.15 million households were without potable water and more than 700,000 were without electricity Monday evening. In Puerto Rico, at least four people have been reported dead and more than 75% of electricity customers were without power Wednesday morning.
A growing number of individuals across the disenfranchised colonial territory, however, have electricity thanks to privately installed solar systems. Arturo Massol-Deyá, of Adjuntas, told Inside Climate News his solar panels and battery backup system emerged unscathed and even kept running as the storm hit. “Personally, me and my family, we’re good,” Eddie Ramirez, who installed solar panels and battery storage at his San Juan bed and breakfast in 2013, told ICN. “Puerto Rico, I can say, is not.” Anger is growing over the repeated failure of Luma, the island’s private electrical utility, to prevent widespread blackouts as climate change makes major rain-dumping hurricanes like Fiona and Maria more likely.
Grid and infrastructure failures
“It is an old system and it’s undermaintained. In [the] five years [since Hurricane Maria], there has been no significant investment to speak of,” Tom Sanzillo, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told E&E News. Julio López Varona, of the Center for Popular Democracy, essentially agreed. “The sad part is that we knew a lot of this would happen,” he told Politico Pro.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, called for a federal investigation of Luma’s failures in light of the billions of dollars it has received in aid. Hurricane Fiona is forecast to hit Bermuda early Friday morning and Canada’s maritime provinces over the weekend. (AP, CNN; Turks and Caicos: (AP, Washington Post $, Yale Climate Connections; Dominican Republic: AP, Washington Post $; Puerto Rico: Washington Post $, AP, Gizmodo, Washington Post $; Puerto Rico solar: Inside Climate News, Canary Media, Canary Media (es), TIME; Puerto Rico grid: E&E News, Politico Pro $; NY AG: Bloomberg $, Politico Pro $; Projected path: Weather Channel; PHOTOS: Washington Post $)