Dominica declares disaster status after storm leaves 20 dead

Deadly Storm Devastation in Dominica


ROSEAU, Dominica (AP) — Rescue teams worked Sunday to reopen roads to remote communities in Dominica after Tropical Storm Erika caused flooding and mudslides that killed at least 20 people and left more than 50 missing on the Caribbean island.

"Access by road to these communities is impossible," Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said. These towns "are cut off from the rest of the country."

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In a national address late Saturday, Skerrit said he was declaring disaster status for nine local areas.

On Sunday, the government ordered the evacuation of about 1,000 inhabitants from the small town of Petite-Savanne, fearing new landslides.

Erika whipped the island for more than five hours on Wednesday, bringing strong winds and intense rain that provoked flooding and landslides. Hundreds of homes were destroyed.

See photos of Tropical Storm Erika:

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Tropical Storm Erika
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Dominica declares disaster status after storm leaves 20 dead
Tropical Storm Erika in a satellite image on Aug. 28, 2015. (Photo via NOAA)
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)
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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Crews were using heavy equipment sent by the governments of Venezuela, Martinique and Guadalupe. Hundreds of men worked Sunday to reopen the country's main airport, where mud and debris impeded operations, Skerrit said.

Skerrit appealed for international aid and estimated that damage from the storm could set the country's development back two decades.

In Haiti, the storm killed at least one person in a suspected landslide. Four others died when a truck hit a bus during the downpour.

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