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Former Parkite narrowly avoids being caught in Puerto Rico hurricane

Jenny Hart
courtesy of Jenny Hart
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Jenny Hart and her fiancé in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico’s southwest coast Sunday, knocking out power and causing catastrophic flooding. A Park City native who calls the island home happened to make it out just before Fiona made landfall.

Jenny Hart grew up in Park City, but left Utah six months ago to move to Puerto Rico with her fiancé. The two had plans to return to Utah last week for a friend’s wedding, but as Hurricane Fiona approached, it became clear that one of them should stay behind with their dog and shelter in place.

“It kept shifting more south of the island as it was approaching and so we were pretty confident that San Juan wasn’t going to get directly hit," she said.

The weather reports predicted correctly. Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico’s southwest coast. Hart and her fiancé live on the opposite side of the island in San Juan.

Since arriving in the US, Hart has spoken to her fiancé regularly. They consider themselves fortunate that cell service is working. He hasn’t left their home and says he can’t see much out the window. She said he has enough food and water because they planned ahead.

While they escaped the worst of the storm’s damage, many in their area are without power and some are even without water.

“We’re lucky enough that we live in a building that has full generator power back up and a water cistern," she said. "I know that the buildings in our area, the water cisterns are starting to dry out and I guess that they’ve been having issues replenishing them, but we are fortunate enough that we still do have power and water at our building.”

Fiona made landfall just two days before the anniversary of Hurricane Maria. That storm struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 destroying the island’s power grid and causing more than 3,000 deaths.

Five years later, many island residents are still struggling to rebuild. Thousands of homes reportedly only have blue tarps as roofs.

Hart says many residents are still dealing with post-traumatic stress in the wake of Maria, and worry about what Fiona’s devastation could mean for the island’s already weak infrastructure.

“There’s still rolling blackouts just without the storm because the electrical grid hasn’t been fully updated and things like that," she said. "And so with the power being out right now, it’s just how long will it take to get it back on board.”

While the storm continues to pound the island with heavy rain, Hart’s return flight to Puerto Rico remains on schedule Monday night. She hopes to reunite with her fiancé and pup as soon as possible.