Sunday 18 September 2022 11:41 PM Terrifying moment a BRIDGE is swept away in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona ... trends now
Vast amounts of damage is being reported across the island of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona came ashore on Sunday afternoon.
Roads were turned into raging torrents whilst even newly constructed bridges following Hurricane Maria in 2017 were washed away. The entire island is once again without electricity plunging the island's population of about 3.2 million people into a total blackout.
The ferocious wind ripped roofs from homes whilst the heavy rain also caused landslides.
The storm also washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017.
Fiona hit about 15 miles south-southeast of Mayaguez with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to the US National Hurricane Centre. It was moving to the north-west at 9 mph.
Earlier on Sunday, President Joe Biden gave approval for a state of emergency to be declared.
The emergency declaration authorizes Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide emergency protective measures, the White House explained.
Fiona was at hurricane strength as torrential rains deluged the Caribbean island.
The National Hurricane Center said radar indicated the storm made landfall at about along the southwestern coast of the island near Punta Tocon at 3:20pm.
This was a brand new metal bridge installed after Hurricane Maria in the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico
Such was the strength of the water, the entire contsruction was simply washed away down river
The massive metal bridge could be seen floating downstream as floods lifted it from its foundations on Sunday afternoon
Residents couldn't believe their eyes as the bridge simply floated away
A man jumps into an all terrain vehicle as Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Ponce, Puerto Rico bringing torrential rain
Roads were turned into rivers. There is no sign of a metal bridge that once stood at this point
Three people inside a house await rescue from the floods caused by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico
A man walks on a road flooded by Hurricane Fiona in Cayey, Puerto Rico, on Sunday
The storm's clouds covered the entire island and tropical storm-force winds extended as far as 140 miles from Fiona's centre.
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi tweeted at about 2pm EDT that 'the electrical system is currently out of service. Protocols have been activated according to plans established to address this situation.'
Pierluisi also announced on Sunday that public schools and government agencies would remain closed on Monday.
'The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,' he said.
Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution, said bad weather, including winds of 80 mph, had disrupted transmission lines, leading to 'a blackout on all the island'.
'Current weather conditions are extremely dangerous and are hindering our capacity to evaluate the complete situation,' it said, adding that it could take several days to fully restore power.
Health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews were working to repair generators as soon as possible at the Comprehensive Cancer Centre.
By Sunday evening, almost 15 inches of rain had fallen in some areas with nearly the entire island under a flash flood warning.
Nelson Cirino sees his bedroom after the winds of hurricane Fiona tore the roof off his house in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Alejandro Granadillo)
A woman and her dog take refuge in a shelter from Hurricane Fiona in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Sunday
Nelson Cirino's home stands with its roof torn off by the winds of Hurricane Fiona in Loiza, Puerto Rico
People who were evacuated from their homes are seen in a class room of a public school turned shelter as the storm reached the island
Firefighters work to remove a fallen tree from the road in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico as strong winds threaten to rip apart the island
A satellite shows Hurricane Fiona in the Caribbean on Sunday .The eye of newly formed Hurricane Fiona is near the coast of Puerto Rico - and it has already sparked an island-wide blackout and threatens to dump 'historic' levels of rain
Te entire of Puerto Rico island appears engulfed by the hurricane on Sunday afternoon
Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island