Cuba evacuates 70,000 as Tropical Storm Elsa approaches

Arnaldo González, Home Depot's department supervisor, places water bottles in Elena Arvalo’s shopping cart to prepare for the possible effects of Elsa in Miami on July 3, 2021. Elsa, which passed through Haiti and Dominican Republic on Saturday, returned to tropical storm force and threatened to unleash flooding. It then moved towards Cuba and Florida. Credit: Al Diaz/Miami Herald via APCuba evacuated 70,000 residents from the island's southern area on Sunday due to fears that Tropical Storm Elsa could cause heavy flooding. It had battered several Caribbean islands and killed at least three people.Before the storm, the Cuban government opened shelters and took steps to protect sugarcane crops and cocoa plants. Nearly 23,000 people were sheltered in government facilities while the majority of those evacuated went home to their relatives. 400 people who live in mountainous regions sought refuge in prepared natural caves.Florida was Florida's next target. Gov. Ron DeSantis declared an emergency in 15 counties. This includes Miami-Dade County, where the condominium building that was high-rise collapsed last week.Sunday morning Elsa was approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of Kingston, Jamaica. It was moving west-northwest at 13mph (20 kph) on Sunday morning. According to the National Hurricane Center, Elsa sustained maximum winds of 60 mph (95 km/h).According to the center, the storm was expected to weaken gradually as it moves through Cuba on Monday.It said that Elsa will be visible over the Florida Straits, and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. "Some slight restrengthening may be possible," it added.According to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, one person was killed in St. Lucia by the storm. According to the Emergency Operations Center, two people died in separate incidents in St. Lucia on Saturday, one being a boy aged 15 and the other being a woman aged 75.Frank Barakat, his 2-year-old daughter Valentina, is seen guiding him through a section of the Home Depot that's dedicated to hurricane supplies. This is as the store prepares for possible impacts from tropical storm Elsa in Miami on July 3, 2021. Elsa, which swept past Haiti and Dominican Republic on Saturday, reverted to tropical storm force and threatened to unleash flooding. It then moved towards Cuba and Florida. Credit: Al Diaz/Miami Herald via APUp until Saturday morning Elsa was a Category I hurricane, causing extensive damage to several eastern Caribbean islands as the first hurricane in the Atlantic season. Barbados was the worst hit, with more than 1,100 residents reporting damage to their homes, including 62 houses that collapsed. The government promised temporary housing funding to help people avoid being trapped in shelters during the pandemic.Haiti is a country that has been prone to flooding and landslides due to extensive erosion and deforestation.A tropical storm warning was issued for Jamaica, starting at Port-au-Prince in Haiti and ending at the Dominican Republic's southern border. The Cuban provinces Camaguey and Granma were under hurricane watch. There have been reports from some of these provinces of high COVID-19 infection rates, which raises concerns about the possibility that large numbers of people could be forced to seek shelter together during the storm.Antony Exilien, in Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Saturday, July 3, 2021, secures his roof in response to Tropical Storm Elsa. Elsa passed Haiti and the Dominican Republic Saturday, and threatened to unleash flooding. Then it moved on to Florida and Cuba. Credit: AP Photo/Joseph OdelynA fallen electrical pole from Hurricane Elsa is seen leaning on the edge of a Cedars, St. Vincent residential balcony, Friday, July 2, 2021. Elsa became the Atlantic's first hurricane on Friday, as it blew away roofs and snapped trees in eastern Caribbean. Officials closed schools, businesses, and airports. Credit: AP Photo/Orvil SamAccording to Brian McNoldy (a Hurricane Researcher at the University of Miami), Elsa is the fifth-earliest named storm. She also holds the record for the fastest-moving tropical hurricane.Forecasts predict rain of 4-8 inches (10-20 cmimeters), with maximum amounts of 15 inches (38 cmimeters), across parts of southern Hispaniola, Jamaica.Check out Tropical Storm Elsa, which is threatening Cuba due to fears of flooding.2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Without permission, this material may not be broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.