WEATHER | Three dead as Elsa batters Caribbean, heads for Cuba

WEATHER | Three dead as Elsa batters Caribbean, heads for Cuba

MONTEGO BAY, July 4, 2021 - As Tropical Storm Elsa continues its destructive trek across the Caribbean, battering the southern coasts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, blowing off roofs and downing trees, there are reports of at least three persons dead.

A 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman died in separate events in the Dominican Republic on Saturday after walls collapsed on them, while a third death was reported in St Lucia.

Elsa battered the islands of St. Lucia and Barbados on Friday, tearing off rooftops, downing trees and power lines and blocking roads as it moved across the eastern Caribbean with 75 mph winds and heavy rain.

In Barbados, more than 1,100 people reported damaged houses, including 62 homes that completely collapsed. The government promised to find and fund temporary housing to avoid clustering people in shelters amid the pandemic.

“This is a hurricane that has hit us for the first time in 66 years,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said on Saturday. “There is no doubt this is urgent.”

Debris lies in front of a house which lost its roof and walls after strong winds of Hurricane Elsa passed St Michael, Barbados July 2, 2021 [Nigel Browne/Reuters]Debris lies in front of a house which lost its roof and walls after strong winds of Hurricane Elsa passed St Michael, Barbados July 2, 2021 [Nigel Browne/Reuters]Barbados' minister of home affairs, information and public affairs,  Wilfred Abrahams said “We have been significantly affected.  There is widespread damage to property. There are roofs that have come off, roofs have collapsed, houses have collapsed. There are downed power lines across Barbados, live power lines, downed trees, and some roads are impassable, Abrahams said.”

Minister of Housing, Lands and Maintenance, Dr. William Duguid said 700 houses had roof problems and those that would require total rebuilding would be carried out by the National Housing Corporation (NHC) and the Urban and Rural Development Commissions, and this would get under way in 48 hours.

In the Dominican Republic, some flooding was reported in San Cristobal province, prompting about 100 evacuations, while waves of 12-14 feet (356-427cm) washed debris ashore in the capital, Santo Domingo.
In Haiti, authorities used social media to alert people about the storm and urged them to evacuate if they lived near water or mountain flanks.

“The whole country is threatened,” the Civil Protection Agency said in a statement. “Make every effort to escape before it’s too late.”

Over in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,  officials on Saturday reported at least 43 homes and three police stations damaged, which also suffered massive volcanic eruptions that began in April.

“We expect that this number will increase as reports keep coming in,” said Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. “We have some damage, but it could have been far worse.”

Tropical Storm Elsa is a little weaker and slower Sunday as it swirls away from Haiti toward Jamaica and Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center, but a tropical storm watch is in effect for the Florida Keys.

The hurricane center said as of 5 a.m. ET, Elsa was moving west-northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. Its center was located 85 miles east of Kingston, Jamaica.

Elsa is moving very near Jamaica and parts of eastern and central Cuba on Sunday, the hurricane center said, where tropical storm conditions are expected and hurricane conditions are possible later Sunday and at night.

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