Dominica, Puerto Rico: Still wary of dissipated storm Beryl

Beryl had been the Atlantic season’s first hurricane, then it disintegrated as a tropical storm shortly before reaching Dominica.

Published 5 years ago, updated 4 years ago

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YABUCOA, Puerto Rico — The remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl rushed over Dominica but then dissipated, lessening the threat to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which had braced for heavy rains and strong winds less than a year after being battered by hurricanes.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the system’s winds would fall below gale force during the night as it headed on a path expected to take it south of those islands. But forecasters also cautioned that people should be alert for possible heavy rain that could cause flooding or mudslides.

Beryl had been the Atlantic season’s first hurricane, then it disintegrated as a tropical storm shortly before reaching Dominica. The storm crossed directly over the island, which is still rebuilding more than nine months after Hurricane Maria hit as a Category 5 storm and killed dozens of people.

There was no early word on damage from the storm on Dominica. Government officials had said they were most worried about those still living with tarps on their roofs.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit urged people to stay inside and observe a curfew. “Our hope is that we get a little rain,” he said. “That’s what we’re praying for.”

The hurricane centre said Beryl’s remnant had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph late Sunday and was moving west-northwestward at 26 mph. It said the system could still drop up to 2 to 3 inches of rain, with as much as 5 inches in isolated spots.

Puerto Rico also suffered widespread damage from Hurricane Maria, and Gov. Ricardo Rossello had worried the island could experience power outages if Beryl arrived as a tropical storm as originally forecast. He urged people without sturdy roofs to move in with relatives or to one of 24 government shelters. Some 60,000 people still have only tarps for roofs.

Those living near Puerto Rico’s south coast were wary of the rain forecast since they were the first ones hit by Maria and saw some of the biggest damage.

“We’re a little bit scared because of what we’ve been through,” said Jose Bultron, a delivery man in the southeast town of Humacao. “This brings back memories … but we forge ahead.”

Flooding is a big concern for those still living in homes that have not been fully rebuilt since Maria. Lourdes De Jesus, who travelled from West Springfield, Massachusetts, to help repair her mother’s house in southeast Yabucoa, said the roof consists of tarp and recycled zinc and leaks even during a light storm.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” she said. “We don’t have the money to spend on zinc roofing.”

Off the U.S. East Coast, Tropical Storm Chris had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph early Monday. It was centred about 200 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras and was moving south at 1 mph.

Chris is expected to remain nearly stationary during the next day or so, then accelerate northeastward on Wednesday and Thursday.

Chris is forecast to become a hurricane late today or tonight.

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