Tropical Storm Elsa nears Cuba amid fears of flooding

Tropical Storm Elsa nears Cuba amid fears of flooding
Home Depot department supervisor, Arnaldo Gonzalez, loads water bottles into Elena Arvalo's shopping cart as shoppers prepare for possible effects of tropical storm Elsa in Miami on Saturday, July 3, 2021. Elsa fell back to tropical storm force as it brushed past Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Saturday and threatened to unleash flooding and landslides before taking aim at Cuba and Florida. Credit: Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP

Cuba prepared to evacuate people along the island's southern region on Sunday amid fears that Tropical Storm Elsa could unleash heavy flooding after battering several Caribbean islands, killing at least three people.

The government opened shelters and moved to protect sugarcane and cocoa crops ahead of the storm, whose next target was Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 15 counties, including in Miami-Dade County where the high-rise condominium building collapsed last week.

Elsa was located about 175 miles (280 kilometers) east-southeast of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and was speeding west-northwest at 17 mph (28 kph). It had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm killed one person in St. Lucia, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Meanwhile, a 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman died Saturday in separate events in the Dominican Republic after walls collapsed on them, according to a statement from the Emergency Operations Center.

Elsa was a Category 1 hurricane up until Saturday morning, causing widespread damage in several eastern Caribbean islands on Friday as the first hurricane of the Atlantic season. Among the hardest hit was Barbados, where more than 1,100 people reported damaged houses, including 62 homes that completely collapsed as the government promised to find and fund temporary housing to avoid clustering people in shelters amid the pandemic.

Tropical Storm Elsa nears Cuba amid fears of flooding
Frank Barakat carries his daughter Valentina, 2, through an shopping aisle dedicated for hurricane supplies as the Home Depot store prepares for possible effects of tropical storm Elsa in Miami on Saturday, July 3, 2021. Elsa fell back to tropical storm force as it brushed past Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Saturday and threatened to unleash flooding and landslides before taking aim at Cuba and Florida. Credit: Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP

Downed trees also were reported in Haiti, which is especially vulnerable to floods and landslides because of widespread erosion and deforestation.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for Jamaica and from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince to the southern border with the Dominican Republic. A hurricane watch was issued for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba. Some of those provinces have reported a high number of COVID-19 infections, raising concerns that the storm could force large groups of people to seek shelter together.

Elsa is the earliest fifth-named on record and also broke the record as the tropic's fastest-moving hurricane, clocking in at 31 mph on Saturday morning, according to Brian McNoldy, a researcher at the University of Miami.

  • Tropical Storm Elsa nears Cuba amid fears of flooding
    Antony Exilien secures the roof of his house in response to Tropical Storm Elsa, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, July 3, 2021. Elsa brushed past Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Saturday and threatened to unleash flooding and landslides before taking aim at Cuba and Florida. Credit: AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn
  • Tropical Storm Elsa nears Cuba amid fears of flooding
    An electrical pole felled by Hurricane Elsa leans on the edge of a residential balcony, in Cedars, St. Vincent, Friday, July 2, 2021. Elsa strengthened into the first hurricane of the Atlantic season on Friday as it blew off roofs and snapped trees in the eastern Caribbean, where officials closed schools, businesses and airports. Credit: AP Photo/Orvil Samuel

It is forecast to drop 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain with maximum totals of 15 inches (38 centimeters) across portions of southern Hispaniola and Jamaica.


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