Alerts are maintained
Hurricane Irene, 80 kms NNW of Puerto Plata, remains a category 2 hurricane and is moving north-northwestwards with sustained maximum wind speeds of 160kph.
Even when the center of Hurricane Irene did not touch the national territory, the effects of the storm have been felt all over the country, causing heavy rains with gusts of wind and thunder and lightning.
Evacuations and alerts
As a result, hundreds of persons have been displaced and classes have been suspended in public and private schools. Yesterday, several government offices were also closed.
The relief agencies have activated their contingency plans and the Center for Emergency Operations (COE) is maintaining its RED and Yellow alerts for all of the provinces.
This morning the Puerto Plata authorities reported that more than 100 families have been moved from the neighborhoods of Aguas Negras and Playas del Oeste, because their homes are at risk from the strong sea wave activity.
The Civil Defense, together with members of the Armed Forces has been taking people to stay with friends and family or improvised shelters.
Some 14 houses in these areas have been destroyed by the sea. Heavy rains and strong winds continue to affect the area.
Maximum wind speed has been registered at 160kph with stronger gusts, and it is likely that this will increase in the next 24 hours.
Storm force winds, and in some cases hurricane force winds are forecast for the provinces of Montecristi, Valverde Mao, Santiago Rodríguez, San Juan de la Maguana, Santiago, La Vega, Monseñor Nouel, Puerto Plata, Espaillat, Maria Trinidad Sánchez, Samaná, Hato Mayor and Monte Plata. Puerto Plata reported sustained wind speeds of 93kph.
Maritime conditions in all coastal areas remain perilous while Irene moves north-northwestwards, and the Emergency Operations Center (COE) is advising all craft to stay in port.
Coastal flooding risk warnings are in place for residents in low-lying coastal areas on the north and northeast coast like Nagua, Río San Juan and Cabrera.
Yesterday afternoon rains were reported together with wind gusts in the provinces of Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Duarte, Samana, Hato Mayor, El Seibo, La Altagracia, Arroyo Barril, La Vega, Monsignor Nouel, Sanchez Ramirez, Monte Plata and other places.
The agency is maintaining its storm warnings for the area between Point Palenque and Cape Engaño, and hurricane warnings from Cape Engaño to the Bay of Manzanillo.
They also warned the residents in the low-laying coastal areas of the North and the Northeast, such as Nagua, Rio San Juan and Cabrera to take precautions for possible coastal flooding. They have observed 12 to 15 foot waves in the coast near Sanchez, in Samana province.
Several flights were cancelled
At Las Americas International (SDQ), most flights have been cancelled for arrivals and departures. This has affected JetBlue, Air France, KLM, American Eagle and other regional airlines. Some afternoon flights out of Las Americas are confirmed, nevertheless.