Puerto Rico

We are responding to
Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona knocked out power to all of Puerto Rico before making landfall along the island’s southwestern coast on Sunday, September 18, bringing maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour winds and heavy rainfall that caused widespread flooding.

The storm dropped as much as 25 inches of rain in some areas, with more rain in the forecast.

In 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island’s power grid—destroying more than 80% of the transmission-and-distribution system—and caused nearly 3,000 deaths. Since then, blackouts have been a reoccurring issue. Authorities are warning that it could take days to restore power after Hurricane Fiona.

Our teams are already coordinating with island authorities, including the Puerto Rico Department of Health, to develop a rapid assessment and response plan.

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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1.27 million Puerto Ricans remain without power; two-thirds of customers have no running water.
The storm dropped as much as 25 inches of rain in some areas, rain remains in the forecast, and flood watches and alerts remain in effect.
About 1,000 people have been rescued from their homes, and 132 shelters are open to house those displaced by the storm.

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Our Response

International Medical Corps is mobilizing resources to launch a response in the wake of the storm. Assessments are underway across the island, but conditions remain dangerous due to debris, flooding and the threat of additional landslides. The governor has requested that people remain at home. Hospital partners are operational, but rainwater and flooding have significantly damaged equipment. In addition, COVID-19 remains a significant concern, with positivity rates hovering near 20%.

International Medical Corps is supporting recovery efforts across the island, focusing on ensuring that healthcare facilities can reopen their doors and maintain normal hours of operations. Teams have started assessments and begun distributing portable vaccine cold-chain equipment, medicines and other critical supplies.

International Medical Corps will continue to focus on providing mental health and psychosocial support services to communities across the island that are coping with the loss and uncertainty caused by repeated disasters. As conditions ease, our teams will also continue to implement nutrition activities that educate parents, caregivers and children on the correct management of food in times of crisis, as well as counseling on breastfeeding and infant and young-child feeding (IYCF) practices for new and expectant mothers.

Teams anticipate that needs will include hygiene kits, tarps and other critical supplies; energy sources and/or other equipment to keep health facilities operational; mobile health services, including mental health care; ongoing COVID-19 response support; and medical surge staffing.

Our in-country team is safe and accounted for, and are coordinating closely with the Department of Health, state officials, and local hospitals, health facilities and organizations to support response efforts.

Hurricane Fiona Ravages 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.