Storm turns deadly in Dominica
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Tropical Storm Erika made landfall in the Caribbean on Thursday, pummeling much of the region’s northeast with heavy rain and turning deadly in Dominica.
The storm caused severe flooding and mudslides in Dominica that led to four deaths with as many as 20 others missing, according to authorities.
The storm also caused damage around the island, with fallen trees and flooded roads.
Elsewhere in the region, the storm meant serious rains and strengthened surf, and put the next islands in Erika’s path on warning.
As of Friday morning at 8 AM, the center of the storm was approaching the Dominican Republic, with heavy rain still affecting the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, and at 8AM was about 90 miles east-southeast of Santo Domingo.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect for islands including Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The southeastern Bahamas, central Bahamas and Turks and Caicos were also under a tropical storm warning, with the northwestern Bahamas on a tropical storm watch.
The storm led to cancellations across the region and the one-day closure of St Maarten’s Princess Juliana airport on Thursday, although it was scheduled to reopen on Friday.
American Airlines did not announce any cancellations but did offer a waiver of change fees on flights to affected airports including Puerto Plata, Antigua, St Kitts, St Thomas, St Croix, St Maarten, San Juan and Guadeloupe. The waiver was subject to restrictions found here.
JetBlue also announced a waiver of change and canceling fees for Thursday and Friday flights to and from St Maarten, St Croix, St Thomas, San Juan, Aguadilla and Ponce.
But much of the region’s focus was on Dominica, with messages of support from its Eastern Caribbean neighbours including St Lucia and Martinique.
Serge Letchimy, Martinique’s Regional Council President, sent a communique of support to Dominica, extending his condolences to the families of the victims.
He also immediately activated “Caribbean Solidarity,’ an initiative to intervene with whatever operation necessary to help.