Tropical storm losing strength as it nears Florida, 20 dead in Dominica

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Dominica Prime Minister Says Erika Leaves 20 Dead.

Tropical storm Erika began to lose steam on Friday after causing a trail of destruction that included at least 20 people deaths and another 31 missing on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, authorities said. The Dominica prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, said in a televised address late on Friday that the island has been set back 20 years in the damage inflicted by the storm. “The extent of the devastation is monumental. It is far worse than expected,” he said, adding that hundreds of homes, bridges and roads have been destroyed. “We have, in essence, to rebuild Dominica.” Erika dumped 15 inches (380mm) of rain on the mountainous island before it cut on Friday into Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it toppled trees and power lines. The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said the system was expected to move north across the island of Hispaniola, where the high mountains would weaken it to a tropical depression on Saturday and possibly cause it to dissipate entirely.

There was a chance it could regain some strength off northern Cuba and people in Florida should still keep an eye on it and brace for heavy rain, said John Cagialosi, a hurricane specialist at the center. “This is a potentially heavy rain event for a large part of the state,” he said. Florida Governo Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for the entire state, which could begin seeing the effects of the system late Sunday and early Monday. In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama had been briefed about preparations for Erika’s possible landfall in the United States.

Officials urged residents to prepare by filling vehicle gas tanks, stockpiling food and water, and determining whether they live in an evacuation zone. Erika’s heavy rains set off floods and mudslides in Dominica, where at least 31 people were reported missing, according to officials with the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency.

Some communities are no longer recognizable.” Among the houses lost in the mudslides was that of 46-year-old security guard Peter Julian, who had joined friends after leaving work. “When I returned, I saw that my house that I have lived in for over 20 years was gone,” he said. “I am blessed to be alive. God was not ready for me … I have lost everything and now have to start all over again.” Given how weak the storm now is and how dry Puerto Rico and parts of Florida have been, “it could be a net benefit, this thing,” said MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel.

The center of Erika was located about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and was moving west at about 21 mph (33 kph), the Hurricane Center said.

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