Forecasters now say storm will pass over Hispaniola, Cuba before heading to Florida
At least nine people are dead from the devastation, office of Dominica Prime Minister says
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in preparation for storm
One road is cut in half. A plane floats through what used to be an airport runway.
Trisha Scotland said the storm damage is the worst she’s seen in her lifetime.
Scotland walked 6 miles from her home in Jimmit to the capital, Roseau, to check on her mother’s business, photographing the devastation along the way.
“I’ve experienced at least six to seven hurricanes. I’m not even counting the storms. I’m not even counting the depressions,” Scotland said.
More than 20 people are still missing, Charles Roland Jong from Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s office said Friday. Eighteen of those people are feared dead, Jong added. He said nine bodies have been recovered.
The country was inundated with almost 12 inches of rain in less than 10 hours, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
Skerrit said Erika caused “extensive damage” across the island after floods wiped out roads and swamped villages.
He expressed particular concern for Petite Savanne, a community hit by mudslides that rescuers haven’t been able to reach.
“This is where many are feared lost,” Skerrit said.
Authorities are focusing on search-and-rescue efforts, with other countries in the region providing helicopters and other assistance.
Skerrit said the task of repairing Dominica’s “dramatically affected” infrastructure would come later, estimating the cost would run into tens of millions of dollars.
“Usually you have damage in one particular area, but this time around it is island-wide,” Scotland said. “It is a difficult challenge ahead for Dominica.”
A ‘disorganized’ storm
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency as the storm heads toward his state.
“We don’t know how much land it’s going to go over,” Scott said at a news conference Friday. “We don’t know how much water we’re going to get.”
The governor told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday that flooding is his biggest concern — particularly in the Tampa area, which is already saturated from storms a couple of weeks ago.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, Erika was about 95 miles west-southwest of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The Dominican Republic was already getting “heavy rains and gusty winds,” the hurricane center said.