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Hurricane skirts Puerto Rico

BY HEATHER MOYER | Baltimore, MD | August 22, 2000

Hurricane Debby was skirting northern Puerto Rico late Tuesday and could affect the U.S. later this week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

On Tuesday, sustained winds were 75 mph -- the minimum to be still considered a hurricane -- but forecaster said the storm was likely to strengthen. Forecasters predicted that

that eye would stay offshore.

Warnings were posted for the Leeward Islands of the northeastern Caribbean from Anguilla and St. Eustatius westward through the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico,

and the north coast of the Dominican Republic. U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Charles Turnbull declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, but the storm passed without much fanfare.

The storm could affect Florida by Friday, according to forecasters.

A hurricane watch was in effect for parts of the Bahamas, the Turks, and Caicos islands and northern Haiti.

Jody Hill, executive director of Florida Interfaiths Networking in Disaster, reported that it is all but certain that Florida will feel the effects of Debby. "It is too soon to tell exactly

where, when, or how severe those affects will be, but I believe that we must be thinking about our personal preparedness so that when the wind stops blowing we will be able to

respond to the needs of others," she said.

Josue Diaz reported that residents of Puerto Rico are making last-minute preparations. Human services and public assistance personnel are currently being sent to specific regions

throughout the island to be able to conduct rapid needs assessments as soon as possible, he added.

Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) met about 10 days ago, he said, and the organizations reported they were ready to respond.

Diaz also said that Adventist Community Services is ready to manage donations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands should the need arise.

Church World Service (CWS) Disaster Resource Consultant (DRC) Joann Hale says she's already sent notices to her fellow DRCs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Alberto is weakening out over the Atlantic, far from any landmass. Alberto has set a record as the longest-lived tropical storm in the month of August. The

storm formed August 4. It never threatened any landmass and is now just serving as a nuisance to boating in the area.

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