SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Tropical Storm Isaias battered Puerto Rico on Thursday as it continued on a forecast track toward the U.S. East Coast, unleashing small landslides and causing widespread flooding and power outages on an island still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) also toppled trees and some telephone and electrical cables across the island.
Especially hard hit was Puerto Rico’s southern region, which is still being shaken by daily tremors. Santos Seda, mayor of the southwest town of Guánica, told The Associated Press that he has received reports of downed trees and inundated neighborhoods where earthquake-damaged homes still stand.
“The emotional state of people is deteriorating more every day,” he said, adding that crews will fan out to assess damage once the weather clears.
Isaias was centered about 165 miles (265 kilometers) southeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic late Thursday morning, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving northwest at 20 mph (31 kph), and its center was expected to move over Hispaniola — the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic — later on Thursday and near the southeastern Bahamas by early Friday.
Isaias was already toppling trees in the Dominican Republic as government workers in some impoverished neighborhoods used loudspeakera to urge people to evacuate ahead of the worst of the storm. Police also arrested a handful of surfers in the capital of Santo Domingo accused of violating government storm warnings.
Meanwhile, Isaias knocked out power to more than 400,000 clients across Puerto Rico and left some 150,000 customers without water, according to government officials. Meanwhile, crews opened the gates of one dam that last month had such a low water level it led officials to cut service every other day for some 140,000 customers. Outages also were reported in the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands.
Source: Associated Press