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Hurricane Emily Strengthens

Hurricane Emily grew even more powerful Thursday after slamming into Grenada, tearing up crops, flooding streets and striking at homes still under repair from last year's storms. At least one man was killed.

The storm strengthened to a dangerous Category 3 as it cleared the Windward Islands, unleashing heavy surf and rains along Venezuela's Caribbean coast.

The storm was packing sustained winds near 115 mph and moving west-northwest at around 21 mph. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami predicted the second major hurricane of the Atlantic season would get even stronger.

Venezuelan authorities temporarily ordered some oil tankers to stay in port in the key oil refining zone of Puerto la Cruz, port captain Jose Jimenez Quintero said.

Emily struck hard in Grenada, especially in the two northern parishes, St. Patrick's and St. Andrew's, and the outlying islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, authorities said. The damage comes as the island nation is still recovering from last year's devastating Hurricane Ivan.

"Serious damage has been inflicted on many parts of the island," said Rawle Titus, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency.

A man in his 40s was killed when a landslide crushed his home in St. Andrew's, said Allen McGuire, Grenada's consul general in New York City.

In the capital, St. George's, winds blew out windows in a new hospital built with help from the Cuban government, causing flooding, said Barry Colleymore, a spokesman for Prime Minister Keith Mitchell. Hospital employees had mistakenly reported that the roof of the operating room had been blown off, Colleymore said.

On Carriacou, the storm damaged the roof of the only hospital, forcing the evacuation of patients, officials said.

Elsewhere in the country, two police stations and two homes for the elderly also lost their roofs, homes were damaged, streets were flooded and crops were destroyed. Authorities asked the public to remain at home or in shelters, where more than 1,600 people took refuge, as they assessed the damage.

Prime Minister Keith Mitchell planned to fly over the island to survey the destruction, Colleymore said.

In Trinidad, there was widespread flooding and at least one house washed away in the eastern community of Arima.

The Government of the Netherlands Antilles issued a tropical storm warning for Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. A tropical storm warning was also called for a portion of Venezuela's northern coast.

Grenada's Prime Minister Keith Mitchell had sought before the storm to reassure citizens that the government would not be caught off-guard — as it was when Ivan killed 39 people and left a wasteland of ruined buildings in September.

Grenadians rushed home under heavy rain, forming traffic jams in the capital of St. George's. Islanders had flocked to the stores Tuesday, snapping up canned food, water and batteries. The rush contrasted with the attitude before Ivan, when islanders took few precautions.

"We took this very, very seriously," said Colin Dowe, an assistant dean at the island's St. George's University, where dozens of students and faculty members waited out the storm. "Ivan was much stronger so the general feeling is that we can get through this."

At 5 p.m. Thursday, Emily was centered about 445 miles southeast of the Dominican Republic capital, Santo Domingo. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 25 miles and tropical storm-force winds another 115 miles.

The struggle to recover from Ivan has prevented Grenada from thoroughly preparing for this year's hurricane season. Amid a shortage of construction supplies, many islanders still have no roofs and some children are still taught under tarps. Ivan's destruction left few buildings viable as shelters.

Emily trails Hurricane Dennis, which destroyed crops and killed at least 25 people in Haiti and 16 in Cuba last week, according to authorities in the two countries.

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