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New evacuations in Dominica in Erika's wake

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.

Officials evacuated the first 109 of roughly 1,000 people ordered out of the town of Petite-Savanne because of fears of new landslides, said Don Corritte, director of the office of disaster management. Evacuations were carried out by boat because of damage to roads and bridges.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said all of the residents of the town in the country's southeast would be evacuated on Monday. He declared disaster status for nine local areas.

Skerrit said that extent of the devastation was "monumental."

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

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.

Crews were using heavy equipment sent by the governments of Venezuela, Martinique and Guadalupe. Hundreds of men worked 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.

Remnants of the storm were expected to hit parts of Florida Monday.

On the opposite side of the Atlantic, Fred strengthened to a hurricane as it approached the Cape Verde Islands off Africa's West Coast.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Fred's maximum sustained winds early Monday had increased to near 80 mph, with some additional strengthening possible.

Hurricane Fred was centered about 35 miles south of Rabil in the Cape Verde Islands and was moving northwest near 12 mph.

Fred is forecast to move Monday afternoon and night across the Cape Verde Islands, where a hurricane warning is in effect.

As for Pacific storms, Greg Colden, a farmer on Hawaii's Big Island, said he is most worried about the damage that more rain and sustained winds could do to the area as what was Hurricane Ignacio passes by this week.

"I'm more worried about the rain. We've had over 10 inches in August, which is an anomaly for us. The trees are saturated already, and if we get some sustained winds, they could topple. That could cause quite a bit of damage," Colden said. He is one of the owners of Kona Natural Soap Co. in Holualoa, upslope of Kona Village on the west side of the island, and has 450 coffee trees and 1,250 cacao trees.

But he's not overly worried.

"We've gone through this so many times. Unless it whips around the island and we take a direct hit, we should be OK," Colden said.

Colden and other Hawaii residents were calmly awaiting Ignacio as the Category 3 hurricane came closer to the Big Island and Maui.

The islands had been under a tropical storm watch, but the National Weather Service discontinued that Sunday evening, with reports saying tropical storm force winds were no longer expected to reach them.

Several residents said they are treating the storm like business as usual.

Capt. Steve Turner, owner of Kohala Sail and Sea, runs sailing and snorkel tours from Kawaihae Harbor on northwest corner of Hawaii Island. He said he has not canceled any appointments.

"We've had some passengers call inquiring whether the tours are still on," he said. "Lately we've had these storms going all around us, and we haven't had much of an effect on this side (of the island). I'm not that worried."

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center reported that Hurricane Ignacio was on a weakening trend Sunday as it moved northeast of Hawaii. Winds dropped from 130 mph to 115 mph and the hurricane was expected to become a tropical storm by Tuesday, said Anthony Reynes, a meteorologist with the center.

With the storm watch discontinued, the Weather Service says the main impact from Ignacio will be high surf. A high surf advisory for Maui remains in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Ignacio is now expected to pass approximately 200 miles northeast of the Big Island and Maui, Monday and Tuesday.

"Mainly the impacts are going to be very high surf and some strong wind gusts over the coastal waters," said Reynes, speaking a few hours before the watches were discontinued.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed emergency proclamations as the islands prepared for high winds, heavy rain and ocean swells.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said at a news conference on Sunday that city officials are preparing to prevent more sewage spills in case the storm touches Oahu, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Also in the Pacific, Hurricane Jimena was moving quickly over open water. The Category 4 storm had maximum sustained winds near 150 mph.

Jimena was centered about 1,430 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii, and moving west-northwest near 17 mph. The hurricane doesn't currently pose a threat to land.

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