4 killed in Dominica as Tropical Storm Erika hits island

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ROSEAU, Dominica (AP) -- Streets across Dominica turned into fast-flowing rivers that swept up cars as Tropical Storm Erika pummeled the eastern Caribbean island, unleashing landslides and killing at least four people.

The storm, which forecasters said could reach Florida as a hurricane on Monday, knocked out power and water supplies on Dominica as it dumped 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain on the small island and headed west into the Caribbean Sea.

An elderly blind man and two children were killed when a mudslide crashed into their home in the southeast of the island, said Police Superintendent Daniel Carbon. Another man was found dead near his home in the capital of Roseau after a mudslide, but the cause of death was could not be immediately determined, Carbon told The Associated Press.

See satellite imagery of the developing storm:

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4 killed in Dominica as Tropical Storm Erika hits island
A trio of fishermen leave the pier at Clearwater beach in a driving rain as a squall from the remains of tropical storm Erika moves into the area Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in Clearwater, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
A beach goer leaves the pier on Clearwater beach as a squall from the remains of tropical storm Erika approaches Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in Clearwater, Fla. The remnants of the storm is predicted to drop between 3-5 inches on the sunshine state. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
A worker goes out to bring in beach chairs in a heavy rain storm associated with a squall from the remains of tropical storm Erika, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in Clearwater, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Residents work to salvage personal items from the site of a mudslide in rain-soaked Montrouis, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Erika dissipated early Saturday, but it left devastation in its path on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, authorities said. In Haiti, one person died in the mudslide just north of Port-au-Prince. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Commuters on their way to the capital are taxied to a bus, after they were temporarily stranded in Montrouis, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, the site of a mudslide triggered by Tropical Storm Erika. The deadly storm dissipated early Saturday, but it left devastation in its path on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, and parts of Haiti, authorities said. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Shoes are collected in a standing fan grill, salvaged from a home damaged by a mudslide triggered by Tropical Storm Erika, in Montrouis, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Erika dissipated early Saturday, but it left devastation in its path on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, and parts of Haiti, authorities said. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Seven-year-old Redefine Aristile leaps over a puddle where a mudslide partially submerged several homes, in rain-soaked Montrouis, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Tropical Storm Erika dissipated early Saturday, but it left devastation in its path on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, and parts of Haiti authorities said. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Residents salvage a mattress from a home partially submerged in mud from a mudslide triggered by Tropical Storm Erika, in Montrouis, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Erika dissipated early Saturday, but it left devastation in its path on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, and parts of Haiti authorities said. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
A man is given a helping hand as residents evacuate from the site of a mudslide, in rain-soaked Montrouis, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Erika dissipated early Saturday, but it left devastation in its path on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, and parts of Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Residents salvage personal items after a mudslide triggered by Tropical Storm Erika left it partially submerged, in Montrouis, Haiti, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Erika dissipated early Saturday, but it left devastation in its path on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, and parts of Haiti, authorities said. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
A man walks on the shore against strong winds backdropped by a rough sea as Tropical Storm Erika moves away from the area in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. The storm was expected to dump up to 8 inches of rain across the drought-stricken northern Caribbean as it carved a path toward the U.S. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A couple of persons take refuge behind a tree against the strong winds of Tropical Storm Erika, as it approaches Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, Friday, August 28, 2015. Tropical Storm Erika began to lose steam Friday over the Dominican Republic, but it left behind a trail of destruction that included several people killed on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, authorities said. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
Workers clean highway gutters as Tropical Storm Erika approaches Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, Friday, August 28, 2015. Tropical Storm Erika began to lose steam Friday over the Dominican Republic, but it left behind a trail of destruction that included several people killed on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, authorities said. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
Broken traffic lights and street lamps lay on the ground as the strong winds of Tropical Storm Erika approach Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, Friday, August 28, 2015. Tropical Storm Erika began to lose steam Friday over the Dominican Republic, but it left behind a trail of destruction that included several people killed on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, authorities said. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
A couple looks out at a rough sea as Tropical Storm Erika moves away from the area in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. The storm was expected to dump up to 8 inches of rain across the drought-stricken northern Caribbean as it carved a path toward the U.S. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Two large navigation buoys hit by strong winds and waves, float near the coast, as Tropical Storm Erika moves away from the area in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. The storm was expected to dump up to 8 inches of rain across the drought-stricken northern Caribbean as it carved a path toward the U.S. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A boat sits in shallow water as Tropical Storm Erika passes through New Town, Dominica, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Erika was expected to move near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Thursday and be near or just north of the Dominican Republic on Friday as it heads toward Florida early next week, possibly as a hurricane. (AP Photo/Carlisle Jno Baptiste)
A man walks on the shore backdropped by a rough sea as Tropical Storm Erika moves away from the area in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. The storm was expected to dump up to 8 inches of rain across the drought-stricken northern Caribbean as it carved a path toward the U.S. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A man looks out at a rough sea as Tropical Storm Erika moves away from the area in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. The storm was expected to dump up to 8 inches of rain across the drought-stricken northern Caribbean as it carved a path toward the U.S. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
A large navigation buoys hit by strong winds and waves, floats near the coast, as Tropical Storm Erika moves away from the area in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. The storm was expected to dump up to 8 inches of rain across the drought-stricken northern Caribbean as it carved a path toward the U.S. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Tropical Storm Erika in a satellite image on Aug. 28, 2015. (Photo via NOAA)
A couple walks on a pier under cloudy skies as Tropical Storm Erika approaches the island in Naguabo, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Erika was expected to move near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Thursday and be near or just north of the Dominican Republic on Friday as it heads toward Florida early next week, possibly as a hurricane. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
TS Erika is hurting lots of us now esp in #Dominica http://t.co/gtGJtzCo8t
Devastating images out of Dominica as tropical storm Erika slammed the country . http://t.co/7rOjGyRg0N http://t.co/FIYs389p2x
People lets 🙏🏽 4 those caught up in #TropicalStormErika in #Dominica #ThisIsNews #caribbean @SkyNews @BBCBreaking http://t.co/d4lo3RLPZg
Tropical Storm Erika in a satellite image on Aug. 27, 2015. (Photo via NOAA)
This visible image of Tropical Storm Erika was taken from NOAA's GOES-East satellite on Aug. 26 at 7:45 a.m. EDT as it headed toward the Lesser Antilles. (Photo via NASA/NOAA GOES Project)
James Franklin, chief hurricane forecaster, looks at an image of Tropical Storm Erika as it moves westward towards islands in the eastern Caribbean, at the National Hurricane Center, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Miami. Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and the Leeward islands. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
On Aug. 25 at 2:11 a.m. EDT, GPM passed over the northwestern part of the storm and found heaviest rain falling at a rate of 1.1 inches per hour. (Photo via NASA/JAXA/NRL)
On Aug. 25 at 01:59 UTC, the AIRS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite saw cloud tops around Erika's center were near -63F/-53C, indicating strong thunderstorms. (Photo via NASA/JPL, Ed Olsen)
NOAA's GOES-East satellite captured this visible light image of newborn Atlantic Tropical Storm Erika on August 25 at 7:45 a.m. EDT. (Photo via NASA/NOAA GOES Project)
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Police said another 20 people have been reported missing.

Erika was centered about 175 miles (280 kilometers) west of Guadeloupe, and was moving west at 15 mph (24 kph) with maximum sustained winds that had slipped slightly to 45 mph (75 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Erika was expected to move near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Thursday and be near or just north of the Dominican Republic on Friday as it heads toward Florida early next week, possibly as a hurricane.

Chris Landsea, a meteorologist at the hurricane center, said the storm could dissipate if it passed over Hispaniola or Puerto Rico or it could gather and pose a potential threat to Florida next week. "The uncertainties are very high," he said.

As the storm entered the Caribbean, it did the heaviest damage to Dominica, an island of about 72,000 people of lush forests and steep terrain. Authorities were still conducting a full damage assessment after rivers surged over their banks and walls of mud surged into homes.

WATCH: Fatalities, flooding reported as Dominica hit by Tropical Storm Erika

Fatalities, Flooding Reported as Dominica Hit by Tropical Storm Erika

About 80 percent of the island was without electricity, and water supply was cut off, authorities said. Trees and light poles were strewn across streets as water rushed over parked cars and ripped the scaffolding off some buildings. The main airport was closed due to flooding, with water rushing over at least one small plane.

The main river that cuts through the capital overflowed its banks and surging water crashed into the principal bridge that leads into Roseau.

"The capital city is a wreck," policewoman Teesha Alfred said. "It is a sight to behold. It's a disaster."

Erika was likely to hit the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, said chief forecaster James Franklin at the National Hurricane Center.

"That would certainly not be good news for Hispaniola," he said. "They're very vulnerable to flooding. And even if Erika is a weak system that could be very bad there."

Officials shuttered schools, government offices and businesses across the region and warned of flash flooding because of dry conditions caused by the worst drought to hit the Caribbean in recent years. Authorities warned power and water service might be temporarily cut off.

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the storm could bring badly needed rains to the parched U.S. territory.

"We're happy given the dry conditions, but it does highlight the need to be on alert," he said, adding that heavy downpours could lead to flash floods. He activated the National Guard as a precaution.

The heaviest rains were expected to hit Puerto Rico's eastern region, with the storm expected to pass about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of the island overnight Thursday, said Odalys Martinez, with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

Erika is expected to dump between 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain across the region, with up to 12 inches (31 centimeters) in some areas.

Dozens of flights were canceled in the region, and the U.S. Coast Guard closed all ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, Ignacio strengthened into a hurricane. The storm's maximum sustained winds increased Thursday morning to 90 mph (150 kph).

Hurricane Ignacio was centered about 1,135 miles (1,825 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and was moving west-northwest near 13 mph (20 kph).

Also in the Pacific, a new tropical storm formed Thursday morning. Tropical Storm Jimena had maximum sustained winds near 45 mph (75 kph) and was expected to strengthen to a hurricane Friday. Jimena was centered about 890 miles (1,430 kilometers) south-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.

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Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press reporters Ben Fox and Tony Winton in Miami contributed to this report.

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