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Tropical Storm Dorian to hit Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic declare emergency as Tropical Storm Dorian rips through the Caribbean. Met offices warn heavy rain could cause extreme flooding in the region.

Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced declared a state of emergency through an executive order on Monday and urged people to prepare for the storm.

She asked those living under an unsafe roof to stay in one of the island’s makeshift 360 shelters.

While talking to reporters she said, “We are better prepared than when Hurricane Maria attacked our island.”

Government officials warned of widespread flooding, power outages and possible landslides.

Dorian was packing 60 miles per hour sustained winds at 2 a.m. EDT.

It hit Martinique on Tuesday, washing out roads on the island.

The storm is expected to approach Puerto Rico next and is likely to reach hurricane strength before it gets there.

Dorian is expected to weaken slightly after moving over Puerto Rico before regaining strength on Thursday and Friday as it approaches Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas.

The storm centered about 275 miles 80 (440 km) east-southeast of Puerto Rico on Tuesday night, carrying maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour (80 kph) according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

US President Donald Trump was criticized for his administration’s response to the 2017 storms. He has accused the island’s leaders of wasting billions of disaster relief aid.

Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott sent Trump a letter on Tuesday urging him to declare an emergency for Puerto Rico before the storm made landfall.

Trump declared an emergency on Tuesday night and ordered federal assistance for local authorities as Tropical Storm Dorian made a last-minute shift in its path, threatening Puerto Rico with a direct hit.

“FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,” President Trump’s Puerto Rico Emergency Declaration reads.

Weather services have warned that Dorian could reach hurricane strength by the time it reaches the country on Wednesday.

National Weather Service Director of San Juan Roberto Garcia warned, “Practically the entire island will be under sustained tropical storm force winds.”

“However, the forecast could change overnight,” said Garcia, explaining that late shifts occur with storms that do not have a well-defined center.

Puerto Rico has been struggling to recover from the 2017 hurricanes that killed about 3,000 people just months after the territory filed for bankruptcy to restructure $120 billion of debt and pension obligations.

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