SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Tropical Storm Isaias battered Puerto Rico on Thursday as it continued on a forecast track toward the United States mainland, unleashing small landslides and causing widespread flooding and power outages on an island still recovering from previous hurricanes and earthquakes.
Especially hard hit by the storm’s maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour 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 neighbourhoods where earthquake-damaged homes still stand.
Isaias was centered about 125 miles west of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and about 105 miles east-southeast of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic Thursday morning, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
It was moving west-northwest at 20 miles per hour and its centre was expected to move over Hispaniola later on Thursday and near the southeastern Bahamas by early Friday.
The storm knocked out power to more than 300,000 clients across Puerto Rico, according to the island’s Electric Power Authority.
Minor damage was reported elsewhere in the island, where tens of thousands of people still use tarps as roofs over homes damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
The hurricane centre said Isaias, for now, is not expected to become a hurricane before reaching the US mainland.
“Isaias is sending some mixed signals,” the forecast discussion stated. “Model forecasts are showing a complex evolution of the tropical cyclone during the next day or two.”
Tropical storm warnings were issued for Puerto Rico, the US and British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and portions of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas.
Isaias was expected to produce 3 to 6 inches of rain across the British and US Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos and also across Puerto Rico, northern Haiti, and eastern Cuba with isolated maximum totals of eight inches.
The Dominican Republic and the Bahamas could see four to eight inches of rain while Cuba could see two to four, with isolated maximum totals of six inches.