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Haiti and the Dominican Republic prepare for Storm Franklin

Haiti and the Dominican Republic prepare for Storm Franklin

Authorities in the Dominican Republic are bracing on Tuesday for the impact of Tropical Storm Franklin on the island of Hispaniola shared with Haiti, which threatens to trigger landslides and severe flooding.

The storm is expected to make landfall on the island on Wednesday and cause torrential rains of up to 10 inches (25 cm) in both countries, and up to 15 inches (38 cm) in isolated areas. Heavy rains are a major concern for Haiti, where in many places severe erosion can lead to catastrophic flooding.

Dominican officials announced they would close schools, government offices, and businesses by noon Tuesday and reopen them on Thursday. In Haiti – where a day of torrential rain triggered by a thunderstorm in June left more than 40 people dead – officials have not announced any closures, and schools are on vacation until mid-September.

As of Tuesday morning, the storm was located about 260 miles (420 kilometers) south of Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital. Maximum sustained winds were 50 mph (85 kph) and it was moving west at 3 mph (5 kph).

Franklin is expected to make a sharp turn to the north on Tuesday and then strengthen before making landfall. It is expected to remain atop Hispaniola for a day before emerging into open waters on Thursday, according to the Miami-based US National Hurricane Center.

Nearly half of the Dominican Republic’s 31 provinces were on red alert and it was announced that 3,000 workers would be sent to 14 provinces to prepare for Franklin. The government said the forecast of heavy rains would not be a problem for the country’s multiple dams due to the low water level.

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In the Haitian capital, Jerome Jean-Pierre, 46, who sells cold soft drinks from a wheelbarrow, said he heard about the storm on the radio and planned to stay home. He said he hoped Franklin would not affect Haiti the way Hurricane Matthew did in October 2016.

“It was really terrible,” he said. “I saw a lot of people being dragged away.”

A Tropical Storm Warning was in effect for the entire southern coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the Turks and Caicos Islands.

On August 10, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned that this year’s hurricane season will be above normal.

Between 14 and 21 named storms are expected, with the potential for six to 11 storms to become hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean runs from June 1 to November 30.

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Ivens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, contributed to this report.