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Hurricane Fiona knocks out power in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic

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Heavy rains and strong winds from Hurricane Fiona lash an area near Nagua in the Dominican Republic on Monday. Photo by Orlando Barria/EPA-EFE
Heavy rains and strong winds from Hurricane Fiona lash an area near Nagua in the Dominican Republic on Monday. Photo by Orlando Barria/EPA-EFE

Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Hurricane Fiona continued to pummel the Caribbean on Tuesday knocking out power in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic while prompting a shelter-in-place order in Turks and Caicos.

More than a million people in Puerto Rico were still without electricity on Tuesday after Hurricane Fiona swept across the U.S. territory with powerful winds and drenching rains.

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Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sunday and immediately impacted the island's power grid. Monday, utility officials said 1.3 million people were without electricity. On Tuesday that number was just under 1.2 million, according to PowerOutage.us.

"We want our customers to know that [we have] been and will continue to work around the clock to restore power," Abner Gomez, public safety manager at Puerto Rico utility company LUMA, said in a statement.

RELATED All of Puerto Rico without power as Hurricane Fiona arrives

"We will continue to work nonstop until every customer is restored and the entire grid is re-energized. While these efforts continue over the coming days, we strongly encourage customers to continue to exercise caution and stay away from any downed power lines."

Hurricane Fiona dumped more than 2 feet of rain on Puerto Rico before it moved to the west toward the Dominican Republic. The storm caused rivers on the Caribbean island to spill over and create severe flooding and landslides.

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At the peak of the storm, Puerto Rico saw winds of more than 100 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

RELATED Hurricane Fiona: More than 1 million still without power in Puerto Rico

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are in Puerto Rico to coordinate relief efforts.

"This is a disaster, honestly. The situation in this area is going to be very bad," San German Mayor Virgilio Olivera said according to El Nuevo Dia, adding that the flooding has blocked many roads.

Meanwhile in the Dominican Republic, officials said that more than 700,000 people were without power Tuesday -- and that dozens of aqueducts are out of service, leaving more than a million residents without clean drinking water.

RELATED Tropical Storm Fiona projected to become a hurricane next week

Fiona strengthened into a major hurricane on Tuesday and began to bring heavy wind and rain to Turks and Caicos. A storm is considered a major hurricane when maximum sustained winds exceed 110 mph.

Officials in Turks and Caicos on Tuesday afternoon said that a shelter-in-place advisory remained in place as heavy winds and rains were expected through Tuesday evening.

"Despite the perceived improvements to weather conditions, the all clear will not be issued at this time," officials said. "The public is again asked to remain indoors, on all islands, as it is not safe to travel on roadways, especially where there are fallen power lines and cables."

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