Nashville native surveys impacts from Hurricane Fiona in Dominican Republic

Puerto Rico Tropical Weather
Posted at 7:48 PM, Sep 20, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville native Ron Sanford said living through a hurricane is nothing new.

Sanford was at his retirement home in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic when Hurricane Fiona ravaged through on Sunday.

Several countries are trying to pick up the pieces after the storm made landfall. It blasted Turks and Caicos on Tuesday, experts think it could strengthen before it hits Bermuda by the end of this week.

Many parts of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are also devasted from the flooding.

Sandford said the damage is widespread. There are flooded streets, homes destroyed, and hardly anyone has power. He's still there with barely any power.

Sanford said his beachfront property has some damage, but it’s nothing like what the locals are dealing with. His employees at his business Punta Cana Dominican Republic Paradise Garage have been hit hard. They're worst off, he said.

"I'm calling all of my employees and making sure they are OK. Later on, we are going to meet at the club and see what we can do to help each other," Sanford explained.

He’s just grateful his area wasn’t devastated like Puerto Rico.

"We know there are about 122 shelters throughout Puerto Rico with about 1,700 sheltered residents staying in those shelters," said Sherri McKinney, communications director for the American Red Cross Tennessee Region.

The American Red Cross Tennessee Region sent three employees to the island on Monday to assist.

"Many of the roadways have been washed out or are unpassable. The powerlines are down," McKinney said.

The shelters on the island are being powered by a solar power system, which is one less worry for volunteers.

There have been some confirmed deaths and McKinney worries there will be more frequent storms because of climate change.

She said they're focused on the needs of Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands.                 

"We are predicting that this will be a response that will last longer than two weeks," McKinney said.

Sanford wants the community to be thinking about him and the locals picking up the pieces.

"Send your love down here to us, because there is a lot of devastation," Sanford said.

Sanford plans to get his home and business cleaned up. He plans to head back to Nashville in a few weeks.

The American Red Cross is looking for Spanish-speaking volunteers to go to Puerto Rico. Right now, the nonprofit said the best way to help is to donate funds.

They're gearing up for another storm to hit next week in Florida.