Tropical Storm Franklin made landfall on the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, raising fears that it could trigger deadly landslides and heavy flooding in both countries.
Franklin was expected to hover over the island, with meteorologists warning that the storm could dump up to 10 inches (25 cm) of rain, with a maximum of 15 inches (38 cm) in central Hispaniola.
In the Caribbean, officials were more concerned about the impact of Hurricane Franklin on Haiti, which is vulnerable to catastrophic flooding due to the country’s severe erosion.
Franklin is the seventh named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30.
Prime Minister Ariel Henri urged Haitians to stock up on water, food and medicine, while authorities screened more than 200,000 people displaced by gang violence, some living on the streets or in temporary shelters.
Some recalled how a powerful thunderstorm that caused torrential rain one day in June killed more than 40 people across Haiti.
And in the Dominican Republic, officials have closed schools, government agencies and several airports, with at least 24 of the country’s 31 provinces placed on red alert. By early Wednesday, more than 40 channels were out of service due to heavy rain, affecting more than 830,000 customers.
Flooding has already been reported in and outside Santo Domingo, as residents braced for heavy rains, while authorities evacuated 31 families.
The storm alarmed thousands of Dominicans who live in flood-prone areas.
“When two drops of water fall here, the area is suddenly flooded,” said Juan Olivo Urbaz, who owns a small business in a community near the Ozama River.
A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the entire southern coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as the entire northern coast of the Dominican Republic. The Bahamas government also issued a tropical storm warning for the Turks and Caicos Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.