CHRIST CHURCH, Barbados—Hurricane Elsa caused power outages, blew roofs off homes, toppled trees, and caused flooding in areas of the island-nation of Barbados on Friday.
Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs, Wilfred A. Abrahams, urged Barbadians to shelter in place and only leave their homes if the structures were to become damaged.
Elsa strengthened into a hurricane earlier in the day and was about 40 miles (64 km) west of Barbados, blowing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 km/h), the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The minister said most reports have observed damage to the south of the island, including power outages, fallen trees, flash flooding, and roofs blown off.
There were no reports of injuries or deaths.
Winds could pick up and utility and emergency services would not be able reach people in need, the minister said.
A resident in south Barbados, 43-year-old structural engineer Greg Parris, said his home lost power around 7 a.m. and he saw blown-out roofs and some flash flooding in his neighborhood.
“It was scary. Most of us, we haven’t experienced anything like this for a while,” Parris said.
The NHC activated a hurricane warning for Barbados, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, meaning hurricane conditions are expected in the next few hours, and preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
Elsa’s progress should be monitored by the Windward Islands, Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, the Miami-based NHC said. It forecast additional hurricane warnings would likely be needed later in the day for portions of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft was entering the hurricane and an NOAA aircraft was scheduled to investigate the system this afternoon, the NHC added.
Elsa’s storm surge is expected to raise water levels by as much as 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds in the hurricane warning area in the Windward Islands and along the southern coast of Hispaniola.
The NHC forecast total rainfall of 3 to 6 inches with maximum amounts of 10 inches on Friday across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados, which could lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides.
There is a risk of storm surge, wind, and rainfall in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula early next week, although the forecast is uncertain, the NHC said.
By Robert Edison Sandiford