Tropical Storm Erika: At Least 25 Dead, Widespread Flooding Reported in Dominica; State of Emergency Declared in Florida

Tropical Storm Erika: At Least 25 Dead, Widespread Flooding Reported in Dominica; State of Emergency Declared in Florida
Fecha de publicación: 
28 August 2015
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Erika has already turned deadly. At least 25 people have been killed on the small island of Dominica, officials told local media Friday morning.

The Ministry of Public Works told Trinidad and Tobago TV station CCN TV6 that the death toll has risen above two dozen after the storm left severe flooding and triggered mudslides on Thursday.

"Erika has really, really visited us with a vengeance," Claude Weeks, assistance police superintendent, told the Associated Press during a phone interview. Because many roads and bridges are impassable, crews are trying to reach isolated communities via the ocean, he added.

Among those confirmed dead were a blind elderly man and two children in southeastern Dominica, and another man was killed in the country's capital of Roseau, the report said.

About 20 others remain missing on the tiny Lesser Antilles island that's home to about 72,000, and many homes have been destroyed in the storm, the AP also reported.

"The situation is grim. It is dangerous," Ian Pinard, Dominica's communications minister, told the AP.

About 80 percent of the island was left without electricity, and the water supply was cut off. Trees and light poles were strewn across streets, and several buildings sustained damage, including torn off scaffolding. AP also reports the main airport was closed because of flooding, with water rushing over at least one small plane.

"The capital city is a wreck. It is a sight to behold. It's a disaster," policewoman Teesha Alfred told the AP about Roseau.

Social media users posted images and video of a raging Roseau River Thursday morning as several bands of heavy rain pounded the small island nation.

On Thursday, 12.64 inches of rain fell in a 12-hour period from 2 a.m. EDT to 2 p.m. at the Canefield Airport near Roseau, Dominica, according to local storm reports.

The Associated Press reports that governments in San Juan, Puerto Rico, have ordered schools, airports and even casinos to close as they begin to prepare shelters. 

Schools and government offices in St. Maarten will be closed Thursday, and officials asked casinos, restaurants and other businesses to close by midnight on Wednesday. They warned that they may temporarily suspend power and water service as the storm continues to approach.

Government offices in the U.S. Virgin Islands will be closed and all airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands will be closed until Friday, Gov. Kenneth Map told the AP. 

Boats docked at Shell Beach Marina on Antigua's north coast have been removed from the water since Saturday, with people not taking chances as Erika approaches, marina employee Caroline Davy told the Associated Press.

Seaborne Airlines and LIAT, based in Puerto Rico and Antigua respectively, have canceled more than two dozen flights through Friday due to the storm. Officials in Puerto Rico said they will suspend ferry transportation between the main island and the sister islands of Culebra and Vieques on Thursday.

Cruise line Carnival was forced to cancel its St. Maarten and St. Kitts stops due to the storm. The itinerary has been adjusted to have the ship spend two days in San Juan before continuing to Grand Turk and the addition of Nassau. 

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands. 

Florida Prepares

The State of Florida Emergency Operations Center has activated to level two in preparation for possible impacts from Tropical Storm Erika. 

"We are preparing the protective and responsive measures we will need if the storm continues to develop out of an abundance of caution," said FDEM Director Bryan W. Koon.

(MORE: What America Was Like the Last Time a Hurricane Hit Florida)

Boat owners and area marinas in South Florida have begun to make their own preparations. Sailfish Marina dock master Austin Peters told WPTV that a handful of captains have already moved their boats to safer areas. According to him, if there is a hurricane warning, all boats are required to leave the marina, which can be difficult because many of the boat owners live out of state.

"Usually some people will go south or north to avoid the storm, or they will go to a dry dock where they will be lifted out of the water," said Peters.

Boaters will be encouraged to add lines to their boats to make sure they’re secured. The marina also plans to shut down gas and water lines if the storm begins to pose a larger threat. 

FEMA recommends that, in addition to having a hurricane kit, residents should stock up a three-day supply of food and water.

(BLOG: Tricky Forecast Ahead for Erika)

Enlace permanente de imagen incrustada
hasn't had landfalling hurricane in 10yrs. In water can't stay on the shelf.

Damage from Tropical Storm Erika shown in Puerto Rico. (

A boat sits in shallow water as Tropical Storm Erika passes through New Town, Dominica, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015.(AP Photo/Carlisle Jno Baptiste)

A couple walks on a pier under cloudy skies as Tropical Storm Erika approaches the island in Naguabo, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

A properly stocked hurricane kit should consist of: 

  • Non-perishable food, such as energy bars
  • Batteries
  • Radio, battery operated or hand cranked
  • Cellphone charger
  • LED flashlight for each member of the family
  • Lighter
  • First aid kit
  • 1 gallon of water for every member of the family

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