Travelers and locals in the Turks and Caicos braced themselves Tuesday, September 20 for Hurricane Fiona to knock at their doors. The category 3 storm brought dangerous flooding and heavy rain to the islands and left the city shut down.

The British government ordered a shutdown of the islands on Monday following hurricane devastation in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. All businesses closed by 3 PM and residents had to be indoors by 5 PM. Awaiting total havoc, the citizens in the Turks and Caicos had no idea what to expect as the storm loomed near.

Scared & Prepared

Hurricane Fiona
Photo Courtesy of Kelly.

Residents in the Turks and Caicos felt more prepared for Hurricane Fiona than for past tropical storms. Deputy Governor Anya Williams said the shutdown put them ahead of the game and that the government stayed in communication with the British Royal Navy and U.S. Coast Guard before and after Hurricane Fiona hit. 

“Shutting the country down early is what helped us save lives,” Williams said. 

Jaquan Harvey, who lives in Grand Turk, learned a lot from the devastation Hurricane Maria left five years ago. Fiona was set to hit the islands on the anniversary of Hurricane Maria. The powerful, category 5 storm killed 3,000 people and destroyed the power grid in Puerto Rico.

“It was very loud, like there were giants outside shouting and roaring,” Harvey said. “You could feel the pressure of the air as everything rattled.”

With the past aftermath in Puerto Rico on everyone’s minds, residents in the Turks and Caicos braced for Hurricane Fiona fearful but prepared.

Devastation In Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona
Photo Courtesy of Denniz Futalan.

Another reason the Turks and Caicos government declared the shutdown was due to the devastation in Puerto Rico a few days before. Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the US territory on Sunday afternoon and rained down 30 inches (76.2 cm) of rain in some areas. 

On Tuesday, 80 percent of residents in Puerto Rico remained without power. Local officials say it will be days before they are able to return power to the island’s 3.3 million residents. 

Some Puerto Rican locals still live with makeshift tarpaulin roofs following the damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017. With unpredictable tropical storms prone to arise during hurricane season, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the mounting damages in the aftermath.

Zero Fatalities

The shutdown in the Turks and Caicos saved lives during the chaos of Hurricane Fiona. Despite there being a power outage, Governor Williams reported no deaths in the aftermath of the storm. 

Issuing travel alerts, closing businesses, and encouraging residents to stay inside ensured a low fatality rate.