Tropical storm Elsa left a trail of destruction in many Caribbean islands after sweeping through the tropics over the weekend (Picture: Getty/Reuters)
Three people have died and many homes have been destroyed in the Caribbean by 90mph winds and flash flooding as tropical storm Elsa heads for Florida.
Elsa, which became the first hurricane of the 2021 season, left a trail of destruction in Cuba, Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Saint Lucia over the weekend and into Monday, downing trees, wrecking buildings and forcing people to flee their homes.
It became the first hurricane to hit Barbados in 65 years, according to the Jamaica Observer, when it made landfall on the island on Sunday. The powerful weather system has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, however, and is predicted to batter Florida with strong winds and a possible storm surge on Wednesday.
As Elsa tracked across the Caribbean, on Saturday and into Sunday, Barbados and Saint Lucia endured gusts of winds exceeding 80mph.
Debris from a house lie next to a road after strong winds brought by hurricane Elsa passed St. Michael, Barbados, on July 2, 2021 (Picture: Reuters)
The storm has destroyed many homes and buildings in several Caribbean islands (Picture: Reuters)
Tropical storm Elsa is due to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning
One person sadly died in Soufriere, St. Lucia, which saw significant wind damage and power outages to 30% of the island’s population, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.
Two more people, a 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman, died in separate incidents from collapsed walls in the Dominican Republic.
Wilfred Abrahams, the minister of home affairs for Barbados, ordered residents to take shelter as Elsa arrived with hurricane-force winds.
‘There is widespread damage to property’, said Abrahams, reports the Miami Herald.
He added: ‘There are roofs that have come off, roofs have collapsed, houses have collapsed.
‘There are downed power lines across Barbados, live power lines, downed trees, some roads are impassable.’
Early on Sunday, 180,000 residents in Cuba were evacuated ahead of the storm’s arrival later in the day.
Photos show how several Caribbean islands have been left with a massive clean-up operation after Elsa downed power lines, toppled homes and damaged essential infrastructure.
As Elsa moves across the gulf of Mexico, forecasters are predicting the storm will make landfall near Tampa, Florida, on Wednesday morning.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for 15 counties across the sunshine state of the storm’s arrival.
Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties are all included under the state of emergency, with residents urged to take action to protect themselves and their properties.
Satellite images show the size of tropical storm Elsa as it passes through the Caribbean (Picture: Getty/AFP)
Intense waves battered the shores of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on July 3 2021 (Picture: EPA)
Elsa has blown roofs off homes, toppled trees and sparked flooding in the holiday island of Barbados (Picture: MEGA)
In Monroe County, Florida, officials also declared a local state of emergency, with the county’s mayor saying that residents should brace themselves for the storm.
‘We’re pretty used to having tropical storms and hurricanes in the Florida Keys, so we’re doing what we normally do’, said Monroe county mayor, Michelle Coldiron, during an interview with NBC 6 News.
Coldiron added that residents have been urged to secure their outdoor furniture and gather supplies and a second power source in case of power cuts caused by the storm.
For more stories like this, check our news page.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].