The Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, is under extreme flood alert as the storm brings winds of up to 110 km per hour.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic are preparing for flooding and potential damage as Tropical Storm Elsa brought strong winds to the area on Saturday.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said a plane measured maximum sustained winds at 110 kilometers (70 miles) per hour, which downgraded Elsa to a tropical storm from a hurricane.
The center of the storm was passing south of Haiti’s southwestern peninsula, bringing tropical storm conditions to parts of that country and the neighboring Dominican Republic, the NHS said in a 2 p.m. ET (6 p.m. GMT) statement. update.
“A small change in force is expected until tonight, but a gradual weakening is expected on Sunday and Monday as Elsa is expected to be near or over Cuba,” the agency said.
In the Dominican Republic, authorities evacuated people living near rivers and streams in the coastal province of Barahona as severe flooding was forecast. The capital Santo Domingo was also under an extreme flood alert.
Emergency groups said they had 2,500 centers ready for evacuees.
Some people worried about the condition of their homes, many living under corrugated roofs. “I have a lot of leaks in my zinc,” said resident María Ramos. “What are we going to do? God only knows.”
“The whole country threatened”
Haiti, which killed 31 in Hurricane Laura in August, had not ordered an evacuation, but authorities used social media to alert people to the storm and urged them to evacuate if they lived near water or mountain sides.
“The whole country is at risk,” the Civil Protection Agency said in a statement. “Make an effort to escape before it is too late.”
Director Jerry Chandler told The Associated Press the agency is short of basic items, including food and water. recent upsurge in gang violence has already displaced thousands of local people from their homes.
“We have been supporting families fleeing gang violence for three weeks,” he said. “We are working on renewing our stocks, but the biggest problem is logistics. “
He said officials were still trying to figure out how to get supplies to the southern region of Haiti, which prepared for Elsa’s impact.
Meanwhile, people were buying water and food before the storm approached.
“I protect myself as best I can. Civil protection is not going to do that for me, ”said Darlene Jean-Pierre, 35, buying six jugs of water as well as vegetables and fruit.
“I have other worries about the streets… I have to worry about gang fights. On top of that, we have a hurricane. I don’t know what kind of disaster this will cause.
The NHC said the storm is expected to move near the southern coast of Hispaniola – which is divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic – before moving near Jamaica and eastern Cuba on Sunday.
It will head into the Florida Strait on Monday before moving near or over parts of Florida’s west coast on Tuesday, the agency said.
Florida authorities said on Saturday that they planned to demolish a partially collapsed 12-story condominium near Miami ASAP, amid fears Elsa might bring down the rest of the building in a dangerous manner.