Three people have died and many homes have been destroyed in the Caribbean by 90mph winds and flash flooding as tropical storm Elsa heads for Florida.
Elsa, which became the first hurricane of the 2021 season, left a trail of destruction in Cuba, Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Saint Lucia over the weekend and into Monday, downing trees, wrecking buildings and forcing people to flee their homes.
It became the first hurricane to hit Barbados in 65 years, according to the Jamaica Observer, when it made landfall on the island on Sunday. The powerful weather system has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, however, and is predicted to batter Florida with strong winds and a possible storm surge on Wednesday.
As Elsa tracked across the Caribbean, on Saturday and into Sunday, Barbados and Saint Lucia endured gusts of winds exceeding 80mph.
One person sadly died in Soufriere, St. Lucia, which saw significant wind damage and power outages to 30% of the island’s population, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.
Two more people, a 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman, died in separate incidents from collapsed walls in the Dominican Republic.
Wilfred Abrahams, the minister of home affairs for Barbados, ordered residents to take shelter as Elsa arrived with hurricane-force winds.
‘There is widespread damage to property’, said Abrahams, reports the Miami Herald.
He added: ‘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, some roads are impassable.’
Early on Sunday, 180,000 residents in Cuba were evacuated ahead of the storm’s arrival later in the day.
‘We’re pretty used to having tropical storms and hurricanes in the Florida Keys, so we’re doing what we normally do’, said Monroe county mayor, Michelle Coldiron, during an interview with NBC 6 News.
Coldiron added that residents have been urged to secure their outdoor furniture and gather supplies and a second power source in case of power cuts caused by the storm.
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