AFP, published on Thursday, September 22, 2022 at 8:16 p.m.
Bermuda residents were stockpiling water, food and candles on Thursday as they waited out a powerful Category 4 hurricane Fiona, which was advancing towards the Atlantic archipelago after wreaking havoc in the Caribbean.
Fiona’s Eye is due to pass 180km west of this British territory early Friday, according to the Bermuda Weather Service, but due to the size and force of the storm, people were ready to barricade themselves facing the winds and rains it carries.
“I encourage everyone to adequately prepare for this storm,” Prime Minister David Burt tweeted. “Take care of yourself and your family,” he added.
In Hamilton, the capital, businesses were shutting down.
“The wind will come directly from the south. This area is very exposed to the winds,” Richard Hartley, a shop owner, told AFP, putting metal plates on the windows with the help of his wife.
The hurricane was recently rated a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which has a 5.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), based in Miami, it is accompanied by winds blowing up to 215 km / h. It is heading north and must also affect the coast of Canada.
In Bermuda, a very small archipelago of 64,000 inhabitants, it must bring rain and cause a rise in water levels, with “large destructive waves”, indicated the NHC.
The territory, located a thousand kilometers from the United States and accustomed to hurricanes, is one of the most isolated places in the world, which makes any evacuation almost impossible in the event of an emergency.
“We have to live with it because we live here,” said JoeAnn Scott, who works in a store in Hamilton. Residents “try to take it as it comes. And pray,” she added.
– Pure water –
Due to its geographical location, the main island therefore takes preparations seriously even when it does not expect extensive damage.
Many of the boats moored at clubs were pulled from the water this week and outdoor furniture, both in homes and restaurants, was brought inside.
In addition to storing food and candles, Bermudians filled buckets with water from their reservoirs.
As the island does not have a source of fresh water, all the buildings have reservoirs to store rainwater, connected to the houses by an electrical system.
And since power outages can occur during storms, locals often fill their bathtubs or buckets in anticipation.
Here, buildings and houses must also comply with strict construction rules to withstand storms.
“The buildings are really made to last, and we never see the devastation that the Caribbean has experienced over the years,” said Mr Hartley’s wife, Elaine Murray.
– Emergency state –
Fiona caused the deaths of four people in Puerto Rico, a US territory, according to an official quoted by the media. One death was reported in Guadeloupe and two in the Dominican Republic.
US President Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria five years ago.
Fema, the federal agency responsible for dealing with natural disasters, said it would send hundreds more of its personnel to Puerto Rico, which suffered massive power cuts, landslides and floods.
“It breaks my heart,” the leader of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, reacted Thursday.
In the Dominican Republic, President Luis Abinader has declared a state of natural disaster in three eastern provinces.