Tampa man visiting family hunkers down in Puerto Rico as Fiona slams into island nation, knocking out power
PUERTO RICO - Hurricane Fiona reached Category 1 status Sunday as the storm approached the island of Puerto Rico.
A power grid was knocked out, leading to a "blackout on all the island," according to Luma, the company that operates power transmission and distribution. Officials said the weather and winds of 80 mph disrupted transmission lines.
FOX 13 spoke with Billy Reyes, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico but lives in Tampa now.
He got to the island a couple of days ago for vacation and to see some family; hoping what was then-Tropical Storm Fiona would stay clear of Puerto Rico.
LINK: Track Fiona on MyFOXHurricane.com
"We weren’t ready for it, legit we came over here with suitcases full of bathing suits, and tank tops, but nothing can be used," Reyes said. "Luckily, we brought umbrellas, at least we had that, we weren’t even ready for it to be raining, let alone experience a hurricane."
Reyes is staying at a hotel in the Condado area of San Juan. He said he remembers how hard it was dealing with the aftermath of powerful storms while growing up there.
"Back in the day, when I lived here, you would stack up on water a couple of days before, you would buy a lot of canned goods. Chef Boyardee saved our lives, those little cans, ham, anything you can think of, that’s what we got because when the power goes out, it’s not for a few days, sometimes it’s for weeks," Reyes said.
MORE: Hurricane Fiona knocks out power in Puerto Rico
President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the island ahead of the storm, which opened up federal resources to prepare for and respond to the damage.
Reyes said he hopes people throughout the island can get their power back soon. He said he was supposed to visit aunts and uncles during his trip, but they don’t live nearby, and driving to them is too dangerous as of Sunday.
"If the wind doesn’t get you with a branch hitting you or something, the floods will get you because you won’t be able to drive through it," Reyes said.
He said his extended family is doing OK, and as for his trip, he’s going to be hunkering down, hoping he’ll be able to fly back to Tampa on Wednesday.