Puerto Rico

We responded to
Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 18, 2022, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and rain totaling as much as 32 inches in some regions. International Medical Corps worked with island authorities to respond immediately.

The storm created an island-wide power outage that left almost 1.4 million customers without power, and thousands remained without electricity and access to safe water for weeks. Our teams provided urgently needed services, including mental health and psychosocial support, as well as critical supplies.

International Medical Corps has been supporting long-term recovery efforts in Puerto Rico since two Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, struck the island in 2017. When earthquakes hit in January 2020, our San Juan-based team responded quickly, providing sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and mental health services.

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Hurricane Fiona knocked out power to all of Puerto Rico before making landfall, and it took weeks before electricity and clean water were restored to citizens. The storm damaged 50% of electrical transmission lines and distribution feeders across the island.
In the first days following the storm, authorities rescued about 1,000 people from their homes, while 132 shelters were open to house the displaced. At least 25 deaths were caused by the storm, while almost 400 homes were destroyed or suffered major damage.
International Medical Corps’ mobile teams deployed to some of the hardest-hit communities, delivering mental health and nutrition services, and providing urgently needed supplies to families struggling to recover from repeated natural disasters and crises.

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Our Continuing Response to Hurricane Fiona

Working closely with island authorities, International Medical Corps’ mobile teams deployed to three of the most affected municipalities—Salinas, Toa Baja and Utuado—to provide urgently needed services. Teams distributed household hygiene supplies and cleaning kits to prevent the spread of disease, offered psychological first aid to people coping with the acute stress of the storm and the impact of recurring disasters, and provided baby supplies to keep children safe and food vouchers so families could continue to access nutritious food.

International Medical Corps delivered personal protective equipment (PPE), such as KN95 masks and isolation gowns; medical equipment, including oximeters and thermometers; water, sanitation and hygiene items, including water reservoirs, cans and filters; and other essential items to partner organizations, that experienced frequent power outages, so that health facilities could continue to provide uninterrupted access to care.

Communities in Puerto Rico struggle to recover from the compounding impact of repeated disasters. As International Medical Corps shifts from a relief to a recovery phase in Puerto Rico, we will focus on programming to support individuals and families as they rebuild their lives and to help them become more prepared for future disasters. Our community-based programming features integrated approaches to strengthening emotional well-being, awareness, resiliency, and nutrition education and support. Our activities target affected and vulnerable families, and provide emergency preparedness training to prepare communities for future crises.

Our in-country team continues to coordinate with the island’s Department of Health and other officials, local hospitals, health facilities and community-based organizations. Our teams have distributed portable vaccine cold-chain equipment, and continue to distribute medicines and other critical supplies to local health facilities.


Hurricane Fiona’s Impact in Puerto Rico

Erica Tavares, Senior Director of US Programs, speaks to Fox Weather about the impact of the storm and how International Medical Corps is helping.