Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, August 12, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 66° Clear
News

Tropical Storm Isaias causes floods, slides; likely to become hurricane

UPDATED: Thu., July 30, 2020

By Danica Coto Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power and caused flooding and small landslides across Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on Thursday as forecasters predicted it would strengthen into a hurricane while moving toward the Bahamas and U.S. East Coast.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds of 60 mph turned several streets into fast-flowing rivers and toppled trees and some telephone and electrical cables in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes. The National Guard rescued at least 35 people, including two newborns. Authorities in the northwest town of Rincon reported a woman missing after floodwaters swept her away when she tried to drive across a bridge.

Government workers in the Dominican Republic used loudspeakers to urge people to evacuate ahead of the worst of the storm. Police arrested a handful of surfers in the capital of Santo Domingo accused of violating government storm warnings.

Especially hard hit was Puerto Rico’s southern region, which still shakes daily from aftershocks. Heavy rains inundated neighborhoods weakened by the tremors, causing some recently abandoned homes to collapse.

“Everyone is in a constant state of emergency,” said Marieli Grant with Mercy Corps.

Isaias was centered about 95 miles east-southeast of Great Inagua Island in the southeastern Bahamas late Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was moving northwest at 18 mph, and its center was forecast to move near the southeastern Bahamas during the night, be near the central Bahamas late Friday and move near or over the northwest Bahamas and near South Florida on Saturday.

A hurricane warning was issued for the northwestern Bahamas, including Andros Island, New Providence, Eleuthera, Abacos Islands, Berry Islands, Grand Bahamas Island, and Bimini.

Tropical storm warnings were posted for the Turks and Caicos Islands and portions of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the east coast of Florida from Ocean Reef to Sebastian Inlet.

The storm knocked out power to more than 400,000 clients across Puerto Rico, including hospitals that switched to generators, and left some 150,000 customers without water. Crews opened the gates of one dam that last month had such a low water level that officials cut service every other day for some 140,000 customers. Outages also were reported in the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands.

Other damage including 14% of cell towers down was reported elsewhere across Puerto Rico, where tens of thousands of people still use tarps as roofs over homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

“I didn’t think it was going to be this strong,” said José Pagán, a 22-year-old who lives in the eastern mountain town of Juncos and whose home was slightly flooded. “It’s a rather difficult experience because it reminds us of Maria.”

More than 50 people sought shelter in Puerto Rico, said Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who urged those living near swollen rivers to find refuge. But many remained wary of shelter given a spike in COVID-19 cases on the island.

In the western town of Mayaguez, Alan Rivera, a 40-year-old engineer, told the AP that the street in front of his house turned into a flowing river – something that didn’t happen during Hurricane Maria. He and his family planned to temporarily move in with his parents despite concerns about the coronavirus.

“We have to take the risk,” he said. “There’s no other alternative.”

U.S. President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration in Puerto Rico as a result of the storm.

Isaias was expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain across Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and northern Haiti, with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches.Isaias is the earliest ninth Atlantic named storm to form, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The previous record was Irene on Aug. 7, 2005, Klotzbach tweeted.

So far this year, Cristobal, Danielle, Edouard, Fay, Gert and Hanna have also been the earliest named Atlantic storms for their alphabetic order.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.



Swedish Thoracic Surgery: Partners in patient care

 (Courtesy Bergman Draper Oslund Udo)
Sponsored

Matt Bergman knows the pain and anger that patients with mesothelioma feel.