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Puerto Rico has sustained catastrophic damage from Hurricane Fiona

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The extent of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Fiona is now becoming clearer across parts of the Caribbean. We are going to focus on Puerto Rico, where very few parts of the island have been spared, starting on the north side of the island.

MARCOS CRUZ MOLINA: (Through interpreter) We have mudslides. We have floods, many fallen trees. Right now, the whole community is without electricity, and there's a considerable amount of people without water.

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

That's Marcos Cruz Molina, the mayor of Vega Baja, a small town about 30 miles west of San Juan. Even though his city has dealt with severe hurricane damage before, this time is not proving to be any easier.

CRUZ MOLINA: (Through interpreter) Well, it's similar to what happened with Hurricane Maria, especially in regards to the flooding. And it's really distressing.

KELLY: Down in Puerto Rico's central mountainous region, some people woke up to streets that looked more like rushing rivers. Twenty-five-year-old old Fernando Vera (ph) lives in the town of Utuado. As he thinks about what recovery could look like this time, he is also haunted by the impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017. That damage forced him and his family out of their home for two months.

FERNANDO VERA: It was literally, like, as if the mountain exploded, and all the mountain just laid over the top of the road. When we got notice of Fiona, we decided to stay at our uncle's house. And we're currently worried about the conditions we're going to find our home after all this ends.

SUMMERS: And rain continues to fall across Puerto Rico, and the streets keep flooding. Again, Vega Baja Mayor Marcos Cruz Molina.

CRUZ MOLINA: (Through interpreter) Right now, what we're doing is clearing the streets, investigating the community's needs so that they can be addressed in the most efficient way and providing food to the most disadvantaged sectors.

KELLY: It's still not clear how many communities across Puerto Rico sustained serious, even catastrophic damage from Hurricane Fiona. Those assessments will take some time. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Enrique Rivera
Ashley Brown is a senior editor for All Things Considered.