Dorian aims for US, causes limited damage in Caribbean

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hurricane Dorian caused limited damage in the northern Caribbean as it left the region Wednesday night, setting its sights on the U.S. mainland as it threatened to grow into a dangerous Category 3 storm.

Power outages and flooding were reported across the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra after Dorian hit St. Thomas as a Category 1 storm.

"We're happy because there are no damages to report," Culebra Mayor William Solís told The Associated Press, noting that only one community lost power.

Meanwhile, Dorian caused an island-wide blackout in St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and scattered power outages in St. Croix, government spokesman Richard Motta told AP. In addition, the storm downed trees and at least one electric post in St. Thomas, he said, adding that there were no reports of major flooding.

"We are grateful that it wasn't a stronger storm," he said.

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This GOES-16 satellite image taken Wednesday, Aug. 28, 209, at 17:20 UTC and provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Dorian, a Category 1 hurricane, crossing over the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Forecasters say it could grow to Category 3 status as it nears the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend. (NOAA via AP)
Emergency Center personnel stand next to a tv screen showing a meteorological image of the tropical storm Dorian, as they await its arrival, in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Puerto Rico is facing its first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria as Tropical Storm Dorian nears the U.S. territory at near-hurricane force. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Citizens stock up on gasoline and supplies a few hours before the passing of tropical storm Dorian, in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Puerto Rico is facing its first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria as Tropical Storm Dorian nears the U.S. territory at near-hurricane force. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Eduardo Torres, from Puerto Rico, walks with his daughter in the ocean before the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Combate, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A worn-out surf sail hangs from a pole standing on the beach at a private harbor where several boats are being moved away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
LUQUILLO, PUERTO RICO - AUGUST 28: A person is seen along the beach as Tropical Storm Dorian passes the island on August 28, 2019 in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. The Tropical Storm is expected to hit along the southeast coast as a possible category 2 hurricane. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LUQUILLO, PUERTO RICO - AUGUST 28: A person is seen along the beach as Tropical Storm Dorian passes the island on August 28, 2019 in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. The Tropical Storm is expected to hit along the southeast coast as a possible category 2 hurricane. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Workers prepare the building outside a store for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Humacao, Puerto Rico on, August 28, 2019. - Tropical Storm Dorian bore down on Puerto Rico Wednesday as residents braced for a direct hit, the first since the island was ravaged two years ago by Hurricane Maria. US forecasters said they expected Dorian to make landfall in populous eastern Puerto Rico at near hurricane strength later in the day. A hurricane watch also was up for the US Virgin Islands. (Photo by Eric Rojas / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Eric Rojas has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [August 28, 2019] instead of [August 2, 2019]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ERIC ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A man prepares outside a Walmart store for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Humacao, Puerto Rico on, August 28, 2019. - Tropical Storm Dorian bore down on Puerto Rico Wednesday as residents braced for a direct hit, the first since the island was ravaged two years ago by Hurricane Maria. US forecasters said they expected Dorian to make landfall in populous eastern Puerto Rico at near hurricane strength later in the day. A hurricane watch also was up for the US Virgin Islands. (Photo by Eric Rojas / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Eric Rojas has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [August 28, 2019] instead of [August 2, 2019]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read ERIC ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather at the coast and surf hours before the storm enters in Patillas, Puerto Rico on, August 28, 2019. - Tropical Storm Dorian bore down on Puerto Rico Wednesday as residents braced for a direct hit, the first since the island was ravaged two years ago by Hurricane Maria. US forecasters said they expected Dorian to make landfall in populous eastern Puerto Rico at near hurricane strength later in the day. A hurricane watch also was up for the US Virgin Islands. (Photo by Eric Rojas / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather at the coast hours before the Tropical Storm Dorian enters in Patillas, Puerto Rico on, August 28, 2019. - Tropical Storm Dorian bore down on Puerto Rico Wednesday as residents braced for a direct hit, the first since the island was ravaged two years ago by Hurricane Maria. US forecasters said they expected Dorian to make landfall in populous eastern Puerto Rico at near hurricane strength later in the day. A hurricane watch also was up for the US Virgin Islands. (Photo by Eric Rojas / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather at the coast hours before Tropical Storm Dorian enters in Patillas, Puerto Rico on, August 28, 2019. - Tropical Storm Dorian bore down on Puerto Rico Wednesday as residents braced for a direct hit, the first since the island was ravaged two years ago by Hurricane Maria. US forecasters said they expected Dorian to make landfall in populous eastern Puerto Rico at near hurricane strength later in the day. A hurricane watch also was up for the US Virgin Islands. (Photo by Eric Rojas / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather at the coast hours before Tropical Storm Dorian enters in Patillas, Puerto Rico on, August 28, 2019. - Tropical Storm Dorian bore down on Puerto Rico Wednesday as residents braced for a direct hit, the first since the island was ravaged two years ago by Hurricane Maria. US forecasters said they expected Dorian to make landfall in populous eastern Puerto Rico at near hurricane strength later in the day. A hurricane watch also was up for the US Virgin Islands. (Photo by Eric Rojas / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images)
People go to the coast hours before Tropical Storm Dorian enters in Patillas, Puerto Rico on, August 28, 2019. - Tropical Storm Dorian bore down on Puerto Rico Wednesday as residents braced for a direct hit, the first since the island was ravaged two years ago by Hurricane Maria. US forecasters said they expected Dorian to make landfall in populous eastern Puerto Rico at near hurricane strength later in the day. A hurricane watch also was up for the US Virgin Islands. (Photo by Eric Rojas / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC ROJAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers of the Emergency Operation Centre (COE) monitor Tropical Storm Dorian in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on August 27, 2019. - Tropical Storm Dorian intensified Tuesday as it approached the Caribbean on a track that will take it near Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic by midweek, possibly at hurricane strength, US forecasters said. (Photo by Erika SANTELICES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images)
YABUCOA, PUERTO RICO - AUGUST 28: Ya Mary Morales (L) and Henry Sustache put plywood over the windows of their home as they prepare for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian on August 28, 2019 in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. The Tropical Storm is expected to hit around 2pm this afternoon. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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There were no immediate reports of damage in the British Virgin Islands, where Gov. Augustus Jaspert said crews were already clearing roads and inspecting infrastructure by late Wednesday afternoon.

Dorian had prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to declare a state of emergency Tuesday night and order federal assistance for local authorities.

At 8 p.m. EDT, Dorian was centered about 60 miles (95 kilometers) northwest of San Juan. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph) while moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

The Hurricane Center said the storm could grow into a dangerous Category 3 storm as it pushes northwest in the general direction of Florida.

Dennis Feltgen, a Hurricane Center meteorologist in Miami, said Dorian may grow in size and could land anywhere from South Florida to South Carolina on Sunday or Monday.

"This will be a large storm approaching the Southeast," he said.

People in Florida were starting to get ready for a possible Labor Day weekend strike, with county governments along Florida's east-central coast distributing sandbags and many residents rushing to warehouse retailers to load up on water, canned food and emergency supplies.

"All Floridians on the East Coast should have 7 days of supplies, prepare their homes & follow the track closely," Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a tweet. Later Wednesday, he declared a state of emergency for the counties in the storm's path.

A hurricane watch and tropical storm warning remained in effect for Puerto Rico, with Dorian expected to dump 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of rain with isolated amounts of 8 inches (20 centimeters) in the eastern part of the island.

However, Puerto Rico seemed to be spared any heavy wind and rain, a huge relief to many on an island where blue tarps still cover some 30,000 homes nearly two years after Hurricane Maria. The island's 3.2 million inhabitants also depend on an unstable power grid that remains prone to outages since it was destroyed by Maria, a Category 4 storm.

Ramonita Torres, a thin, stooped, 74-year-old woman who lives by herself in the impoverished, flood-prone neighborhood of Las Monjas in the capital of San Juan, was still trying to rebuild the home she nearly lost after Maria but was not able to secure the pieces of zinc that now serve as her roof.

"There's no money for that," she said, shaking her head.

Several hundred customers were without power across Puerto Rico by Wednesday evening, according to Ángel Figueroa, president of a union that represents power workers.

Police said an 80-year-old man in the northern town of Bayamón died on Wednesday after he fell trying to climb up to his roof to clear it of debris ahead of the storm.

Dorian initially had been projected to brush the western part of Puerto Rico and the change in the storm's course caught some off guard in Culebra and Vieques, both popular tourist destinations.

Earlier, Trump sent a tweet assuring islanders that "FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job."

He added a jab at Puerto Rican officials who have accused this administration of a slow and inadequate response to Hurricane Maria: "When they do, let them know it, and give them a big Thank You — Not like last time. That includes from the incompetent Mayor of San Juan!"

The mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, tweeted that Trump needs to "calm down get out of the way and make way for those of us who are actually doing the work on the ground," adding that maybe he "will understand this time around THIS IS NOT ABOUT HIM; THIS IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS; THIS IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES."

Dorian earlier caused power outages and downed trees in Barbados and St. Lucia and flooding in islands including Martinique.

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Associated Press writers Adriana Gómez Licón in Miami and Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida, contributed to this report.

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