BOSTON (WWLP) – Fiona has strengthened to the season’s first major hurricane, causing catastrophic flooding and massive power outages in Puerto Rico.
Massachusetts is home to one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the U.S. and local officials are stepping up to help those in Puerto Rico who were hit by Hurricane Fiona. Representative Carlos Gonzalez, Representative Orlando Ramos and Senator Adam Gomez, along with Springfield City Councilors, are in conversation with island officials.
Hurricane Fiona devastated the island of Puerto Rico, with more than 80% of the island still without power Tuesday. It is also being reported that more than 100,000 homes and businesses have no running water.
Tuesday marks the five year anniversary of when Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island, many still not fully recovered from that hurricane.
Representative Ramos shared that local officials are waiting to see what Puerto Rican officials need before donation efforts start, “They were sort of on a wait and see, you know, let the storm pass and then we’ll be able to assess how extensive the damage is and then we can determined what the short term needs are going to be and what the long term needs are going to be. So right now, we’re just waiting to hear back to see how, what areas are hardest hit, and what the needs are going to be, you know, post hurricane.”
The Puerto Rican government is currently implementing rescue efforts and assessing damage. At least three deaths have been reported since the start of the hurricane, two in Puerto Rico and one in the Dominican Republic.
Approximately 38% of Springfield residents identify as Puerto Rican. Representative Ramos believes local officials should prepare for an influx of Puerto Rican residents to the area, mostly on a short-term basis, while recovery efforts continue on the island.