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Storm Laura kills 11 in Dominican Republic and Haiti, sets course for US

14:01 | 25/08/2020

Tropical Laura could strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane -- whipping winds of at least 111 mph -- before it makes landfall, possibly on the Louisiana or Texas coast.

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storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
A girl wades towards her flooded home the day after the passing of Tropical Storm Laura in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on August 24. Photo: AP

Tropical Storm Laura, which has already killed at least 11 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, is expected to become a hurricane before making landfall on the US mainland late August 26 or early August 27.

Laura could strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane -- whipping winds of at least 111 mph -- before it makes landfall, possibly on the Louisiana or Texas coast, CNN said.

The US National Hurricane Centre on August 24 afternoon issued a hurricane watch and a storm surge watch for parts of Texas and Louisiana, forecasting that water could rise 7-11 feet along portions of the coast.

The hurricane watch extends from Port Bolivar, Texas, to west of Morgan City, Louisiana. Storm surge watches cover an even larger area, from San Luis Pass, Texas, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
A satellite view of Tropical Storm Laura centered near eastern Cuba on in the morning of August 24, 2020. (AccuWeather)

Meanwhile, Marco weakened to a tropical depression. But this doesn't mean the Big Easy can breathe a big sigh of relief.

It could still bring heavy rain and localized flooding as it moves west, but no longer threatens tornadoes, said CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.

The tropical storm made landfall about 6 p.m. CDT near the mouth of the Mississippi River as a Tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
Locals stand on the banks of the Tet Dlo river during the passing of Tropical Storm Laura in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, August 23, 2020. Photo: AP

Laura should be much more of a big deal than Marco, forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center said on August 24 that "there is an increasing risk of dangerous storm surge, wind and rainfall impacts from the upper Texas coast to the north-central Gulf Coast beginning August 26" from Laura.

Rain bands from both storms could bring a combined total of 2 feet of rain to parts of Louisiana, potentially raising the storm surge to more than 10 feet along the coastline and pushing water 30 miles up the rivers in a worst-case scenario, Schott said.

State emergencies were declared in Louisiana and Mississippi, and shelters were opened with cots set farther apart, among other measures designed to curb coronavirus infections.

storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
Street vendors cross a flooded street during Tropical Storm Laura in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo: AP

Heavy rain will accompany the high winds from Laura: “From late August 26 into August 28, Laura is expected to produce rainfall of 5 to 10 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches across portions of the west-central US Gulf Coast near the Texas and Louisiana border north into portions of the lower Mississippi Valley,” the Hurricane Center wrote. “This rainfall could cause widespread flash and urban flooding, small streams to overflow their banks, and the possibility of some minor river flooding across this region.”

USA Today reported that Laura is the earliest L-named storm in the Atlantic Basin, breaking a record held by Luis, which formed August 29, 1995. This season has had 13 named storms, well above-normal activity.

2020 could set a record for most hurricane hits this early in the year, if Laura also makes landfall this week. The most Atlantic named storms on record to make landfall in the continental USA by the end of August is six, which occurred in 1886 and 1916, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach. The continental USA has had five this year: Bertha, Cristobal, Fay, Hanna and Isaias, he said.

Laura kills at least 11 in Haiti, Dominican Republic

storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
Residents try to remove fallen tree branches in a flooded street after the passage of Storm Laura, in Azua, Dominican Republic, August 23. Photo: REUTERS

Tropical Storm Laura is being blamed for killing least 11 people as it battered Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico over the weekend with high winds and flooding.

On August 24 the storm was moving along the southern coast of Cuba and was expected to strengthen into a hurricane.

storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
A rescue worker is seen near debris after a wall fell down next to a house, where a mother and her son lost their lives, after Storm Laura passed through Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, August 23. Photo: REUTERS

At least nine people died in Haiti and two were missing, the AP reported. The AP also said two people were killed in the Dominican Republic.

Haiti's civil protection authority said on social media that the dead there included two women, two men and a 10-year-old girl. The girl was killed when a tree fell on a home in Anse-à-Pitres, which is along the southern coast on the border with the Dominican Republic.

The agency said evacuations were ongoing August 23 morning.

Video posted by the civil protection authority in Haiti showed a torrent of muddy water rushing under a building.

storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
A man walks in a flooded street during the passage of Tropical Storm Laura, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, August 23. Photo: REUTERS

At its peak, the storm knocked out power more than 1 million people without power in the Dominican Republic, where officials used megaphones to urge residents to evacuate. Tens of thousands remained without power August 24 morning, but the country's three utilities had restored service to more than 400,000.

The dead included a 44-year-old woman and her 7-year-old son who died in the capital city of Santo Domingo when their home collapsed, el Commercio reported, citing information provided by the Emergency Operations Centre.

Flooding caused several homes to collapse in Santo Domingo. More than 1,000 people were evacuated across the country.

storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
Members of the Civil Defence help a woman in a flooded street after the passage of Storm Laura, in Azua, Dominican Republic, August 23. Photo: REUTERS

The flooding also cut off more than 120 isolated communities, according to El Caribe.

Earlier, the storm brought strong winds and heavy rainfall to Puerto Rico, leaving about 200,000 homes and businesses without power August 23 night. More than 10,000 had lost water, the AP reported.

The storm brought wind gusts up to 67 mph and dumped 3 to 6 inches of rain in southern and eastern Puerto Rico.

River flooding trapped two people along the rapidly rising Toro Negro River in Ciales, Puerto Rico. The pair were reportedly rescued August 22 evening, El Neuvo Dia said.

The US prepares for impact

storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
People line up to enter retail chain Costco to buy provisions in New Orleans on August 23, 2020, in advance of Hurricane Marco, expected to make landfall on the Southern Louisiana coast. Photo: AP

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested a federal emergency declaration for 23 counties, CNN reported.

As New Orleans prepared for the storms, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which collapsed during construction in October last year, remains a public safety risk because of the building's instability, Cantrell said.

Three people died and dozens were injured during the collapse. It took some 10 months to recover two of the bodies because of the structure's instability.

Long lines formed outside grocery stores in Louisiana as residents braced for both Marco and Laura.

storm laura kills 11 in dominican republic and haiti sets course for us
People line up to enter retail chain Costco to buy provisions in New Orleans on August 23, 2020, in advance of Hurricane Marco, expected to make landfall on the Southern Louisiana coast. Photo: AP

Stacie Osborn said it took her 30 minutes just to get through the checkout line at a market in New Orleans.

"I stocked up on enough food for the week, extra water and gassed up my car just in case," she said.

John Snow in Baton Rouge said the line at his local Costco wrapped around the building just 10 minutes after opening.

"It ended up taking about 20 to 25 minutes to get into the store, which wasn't ideal with the Louisiana heat and masks on. But it wasn't terrible," he said.

"As always, we hope for the best but plan for the worst."/.

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