A day after Hurricane Fiona made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 18 2022, several video clips of storm floods washing a bridge away were shared on Reddit.
A post to r/AbruptChaos showed the sudden collapse of a bridge in hurricane floodwaters:
Similar posts were shared to r/PublicFreakout, r/TropicalWeather, and r/interestingasfuck. However, most video submissions on Reddit were in that format only, without offering links to news stories corroborating description of the footage.
On September 19 2022, the news cycle was heavily focused on the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in the United Kingdom. The View host Ana Navarro pointed out the deleterious effects of the event’s coverage coinciding with the storm battering Puerto Rico in a popular tweet:
Folks, I respect the Queen as much as the next person. I offer my condolences to the Brits and all who loved her. But can I please get some news and footage of the effects of Fiona in Puerto Rico? For those who need reminding, they are American citizens in distress. 🇵🇷
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) September 19, 2022
Up-to-the-minute coverage of Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico often appeared in the form of liveblogs, and the New York Times maintained a paywalled version. A pinned entry reported:
The storm knocked out power in Puerto Rico, then triggered mudslides in the Dominican Republic.
Hurricane Fiona poured heavy rain over the Dominican Republic on Monday [September 19 2022] before heading back into the Atlantic, as Puerto Rico reeled from a power outage that could last days and its National Guard rescued residents stranded across the island.
Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi of Puerto Rico urged residents to stay home, and said at a news conference on Monday [September 19 2022] that more than 1,000 stranded residents had been rescued in 25 municipalities … In Puerto Rico, it became clear on Monday [September 19 2022] that the island would have a difficult recovery, after as much as 30 inches of rain fell in some places. Even as the storm moved west, heavy rain from its outer bands was expected to fall on Puerto Rico through late Monday [September 19 2022].
ABC News shared a clip of the bridge collapsing, without additional reporting attached. A September 19 2022 NBC News article, “Bridge built in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria is swept away by Fiona floodwaters,” contextualized the footage, and noted that this particular bridge was put up as a temporary structure in 2018 — after Hurricane Maria caused severe damage in September 2017:
A temporary metal bridge in Puerto Rico, built in the wake of Hurricane Maria, was swept away in the rushing floodwaters of Hurricane Fiona.
The bridge, over the Guaonica River in Utuado, was destroyed Sunday [September 18 2022], the same day Fiona made landfall on the island, officials said at a news conference … At a news conference Sunday [September 18 2022], a public works official said that, though the bridge was temporary, it could have lasted 75 years.
It was erected in 2018 to provide access to communities located around the river, and a permanent bridge was already in the process of being constructed when Hurricane Fiona pummeled the island.
On September 18 2022, Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico, but news about the storm was eclipsed by ongoing coverage of the September 19 2022 funeral for Queen Elizabeth II. Footage of a bridge being washed away circulated without much context on several subreddits. The footage was real and accurately described, captured on September 18 2022. The bridge was built by the National Guard in 2018, after Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation in September 2017.