News Alert: Hurricane Fiona Strikes Puerto Rico

Mercy Corps is closely monitoring Hurricane Fiona, which has caused an island-wide power blackout on Puerto Rico after striking the island’s southwest coast and threatens to dump historic rain that could produce landslides and catastrophic flooding. As the hurricane passes over Puerto Rico, 12-16 inches of rain are predicted, with up to 25 inches possible in certain locations. According to news reports, rivers have already surpassed their banks and some health centers relying on generators have already seen their alternative power source fail.

Mercy Corps, present in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria struck in 2017, has been working closely with local organizations to prepare for hurricane season and conducted a disaster preparedness campaign in Puerto Rico and the broader Caribbean, reaching 1 million people across the region over the past four months. Through the campaign, Mercy Corps provided grants to Puerto Rican organizations to launch their preparedness activities, from community mapping to first aid training. 

Allison Dworschak, Acting Director of Mercy Corps’ Caribbean Resilience Initiative, says:

“Puerto Ricans have faced a constant state of emergency over the five last years. Power outages still happen and have even increased in 2022, especially in rural areas, and water quality can vary due to damaged aqueducts that have yet to be repaired. There are tens of thousands of families still living under blue tarps covering their roofs. Those who don’t have the financial means to repair the damage properly are especially vulnerable to the impacts of storms like Fiona. 

We’ll be in close contact with our Puerto Rican partner organizations in the coming days to understand what support they and their local communities may need as the impacts of Hurricane Fiona become more apparent.”

Following recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria, Mercy Corps has been helping people better prepare for disasters by transforming local community centers into resilience hubs, equipping them with the skills and resources they need to help their community during a disaster. Mercy Corps has equipped 17 Resilience Hubs with different combinations of solar energy, potable water storage, communication systems, emergency kits, and disaster preparedness training. These resilience hubs are prepared to respond in any disaster and can support more than 100,000 individuals in vulnerable communities.