Tropical Storm Franklin is approaching Haiti and the Dominican Republic, raising fears of flooding and landslides
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Tropical Storm Franklin moved toward the island of Hispaniola shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti early Wednesday, raising fears it could trigger deadly landslides and heavy flooding in both countries.
Franklin is expected to hover over the island for most of Wednesday, with forecasters warning the storm could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, with a maximum of 15 inches (38 centimeters) in isolated areas.
By early Wednesday morning, the center of the storm was located about 120 miles (190 kilometers) southwest of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Maximum sustained winds were 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts and it was moving north at 10 mph (17 km/h).
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Harold weakened into a tropical depression Tuesday night after making landfall in southern Texas, bringing strong winds and rain and leaving thousands of homes without power.
In the Caribbean, officials were more concerned about the impact of Hurricane Franklin on Haiti, which is prone to catastrophic flooding due to the country’s severe erosion.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry urged Haitians on Tuesday to stock up on water, food and medicine while authorities screen some of the more than 200,000 people displaced by gang violence. Some live on the streets or in makeshift shelters.
Some remembered how, one day in June, a strong thunderstorm caused heavy rain It left more than 40 people dead throughout Haiti.
And in the Dominican Republic, officials have closed schools, government agencies and several airports, with at least 24 of the country’s 31 provinces placed on red alert. By early Wednesday, more than 40 channels were out of service due to heavy rain, affecting more than 830,000 customers.
Floods were already reported on Tuesday in the capital, Santo Domingo, and beyond, as residents braced for heavy rain.
“We are afraid of the river,” said Doraliza Sanchez, a government employee who lives near the Ozama River that bisects the capital, and who had to flee her home three times during previous storms.
She hoped that Franklin would not force her to seek shelter and give up her home temporarily because she said people were stealing the property they left behind.
Others, like businesswoman Albita Achangil, fear they will have nowhere to go if the waters start to rise.
“We hope in God’s will,” she said, adding that her yard had already been flooded.
The storm alarmed thousands of Dominicans who live in flood-prone areas.
“When two drops of water fall here, the area is suddenly flooded,” said Juan Olivo Urbaz, who owns a small business in a community near the Ozama River.
A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the entire southern coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as the entire northern coast of the Dominican Republic. The Bahamas government also issued a tropical storm warning for the Turks and Caicos Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Franklin is the seventh named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30. The eighth storm, Gert, dissipated on Tuesday.
On August 10, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated its forecasts and He warned that this year’s hurricane season will be above normal. Between 14 and 21 named storms are expected. Of these, between six and 11 could become hurricanes, and two to five of them are likely to become major hurricanes.
Associated Press reporter Danica Cotto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed.