Tropical Storm Erika dissipated early Sunday, even as its remnants began drenching parts of eastern Cuba. But it left devastation in its path, killing at least 20 people and leaving another 31 missing on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, authorities said.
Another four people died in Haiti in a traffic accident that apparently occurred in the rain, and one other person died in a mudslide just north of Port-au-Prince.
While the storm was stumbling over the Dominican Republic and Haiti, John Cagialosi, a hurricane specialist at the center, warned that people in Florida should still brace for heavy rain, said “This is a potentially heavy rain event for a large part of the state,” he said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott earlier declared a state of emergency for the entire state and officials urged residents to fill gas tanks and stockpile food and water.
Erika was a particularly wet storm, and had been moving across a region that has been struggling with drought.
Given how dry Puerto Rico and parts of Florida have been, “it could be a net benefit, this thing,” said MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel.
At 9:30 EDT, the remnants of Erika were located about 130 miles (205 kilometers) east of Camaguey, Cuba, and were moving west-northwest near 22 mph (35 kph) in a general motion expected to continue into the evening, the Hurricane Center said. The storm’s maximum sustained winds were near 35 mph (55 kph).
The Hurricane Center said Erika’s remnants were expected to move near the coast of eastern and central Cuba on Saturday and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. It said it was cancelling future public advisories