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Dominicans pick up after Hurricane Fiona

Hundreds of Dominicans found themselves homeless on Tuesday after strong winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Fiona ripped roofs from houses and flooded residential areas in the eastern side of the Caribbean nation.

More than 12,400 people were forced to leave their homes, while officials said that water covered main roads, leaving at least two towns isolated.

Rescue operations continued on Tuesday morning as officials attempted to reach communities left isolated by the heavy rains and debris-blocked roads. President Luis Abidaner, who was scheduled to speak this week at the United Nations General Assembly, canceled his trip to New York to oversee aid efforts.

“I will stay in the country supervising the relief work in the areas affected by Fiona,” Abinader said in a video on social media.

The hurricane, which was heading towards Turks and Caicos on Tuesday as a much stronger Category 3 storm, also left its mark on the Dominican electric grid, leaving most of the nation without power. Electric company Distribuidora del Este said 61% of the system was affected and it was still working out details on how to reestablish service to those areas that need it the most.

Dominican officials also reported that almost 60 aqueducts were knocked out by the storm, leaving close to a million people without water.

Dominican officials confirmed on Monday that the powerful winds also resulted in at least one casualty, after a 72-year-old man was struck by a tree he was attempting to trim outside his house. The incident took place in the small northern town of Matancitas, in the province of Nagua.

Fiona’s fury was felt worst in the provinces of El Seibo and La Altagracia, where hundreds of families had to be evacuated after their homes were damaged by the 90-mile-an-hour winds and heavy rains. Videos on social media showed several flooded streets and structural damages to wooden houses.

The Listin Diario newspaper reported El Seibo, located 90 miles north east of Santo Domingo, suffered heavy damage, with streets filled with fallen trees and with wood planks and zinc sheets ripped out of local dwellings, while the nearby town of Las Cuchillas was left isolated after heavy floods blocked main roads.

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