Cristobal Strengthens into Hurricane off Bahamas - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Cristobal Strengthens into Hurricane off Bahamas

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) - Cristobal strengthened into a hurricane in the Atlantic as it moved away from the Bahamas on Monday, leaving behind flooded communities across a swath of soaked Caribbean islands and at least three fatalities.
   
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said that by Monday evening the hurricane was centered about 660 miles (1,065 kilometers) southwest of Bermuda. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was tracking east at 2 mph (4 kph).
   
The storm was projected to later move on a slow north-northeastward track, with a gradual increase in forward speed. It was expected to pass to the west and north of Bermuda on Wednesday.
   
Before strengthening into a hurricane, the storm flooded several communities across the Caribbean and halted flights in the drenched Turks & Caicos Islands.  Government offices and banks were shuttered Monday on the low-lying islands that are highly vulnerable to flooding from heavy rains and storm surge, and authorities said many homes were flooded, especially on North and Middle Caicos islands.
   
Officials in Turks & Caicos said some 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain had been dumped since Friday.
   
In the Bahamas, government meteorologists warned that severe thunderstorms from the storm's outer bands posed threats Monday to Mayaguana, Acklins and a few other islands and they called for boaters to return to port and residents to stay indoors.
   
On the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, two Dominican men drowned and two Haitians went missing when they were caught up in waterways swollen by Cristobal's driving rains. Authorities said they were still searching for the two Haitians missing since late Saturday in Saint Marc, a port town on the country's west coast.
   
On Monday, the Turks & Caicos governor's office reported one storm fatality in the tiny archipelago, saying a body was recovered from floodwaters on the main island of Providenciales.
   
About 3,600 people were evacuated from communities in the Dominican Republic, according to Jose Manuel Mendez, director of the country's emergency operations center. More than half returned to their homes by Monday.
   
Roughly 640 Haitian families were left temporarily homeless during the passage of the storm, said Luckecy Mathieu, a civil protection coordinator. At least 28 homes were badly damaged and four others were destroyed, he said.
   
    


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