Dorian became a Category 1 hurricane on Wednesday as it struck the U.S. Virgin Islands, with forecasters saying it could grow to Category 3 status as it nears the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend.

The British Virgin Islands and the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra were also in Dorian’s path with landslides, widespread flooding and power outages possible in the U.S. territory, which faced its first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria.

“Dorian brings uncertainty, and, for those of us who experienced the storms of 2017, uncomfortable memories,” said British Virgin Islands Gov. Augustus Jaspert. “Take heart.”

Emergency Center personnel stand next to a tv screen showing a meteorological image of the tropical storm Dorian, as they await its arrival, in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Puerto Rico is facing its first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria as Tropical Storm Dorian nears the U.S. territory at near-hurricane force.  (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Emergency Center personnel stand next to a tv screen showing a meteorological image of the tropical storm Dorian, as they await its arrival, in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Puerto Rico is facing its first major test of emergency preparedness since the 2017 devastation of Hurricane Maria as Tropical Storm Dorian nears the U.S. territory at near-hurricane force. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Dorian prompted President Donald Trump to declare a state of emergency Tuesday night and order federal assistance for local authorities.

At 2 p.m. EDT, Dorian was located over St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) while moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

The Hurricane Center said the storm could grow into a dangerous Category 3 storm as it pushes northwest in the general direction of Florida.

This GOES-16 satellite image taken Wednesday, Aug. 28, 209, at 17:20 UTC and provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Dorian, a Category 1 hurricane, crossing over the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Forecasters say it could grow to Category 3 status as it nears the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend.  (NOAA via AP)
This GOES-16 satellite image taken Wednesday, Aug. 28, 209, at 17:20 UTC and provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Dorian, a Category 1 hurricane, crossing over the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Forecasters say it could grow to Category 3 status as it nears the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend. (NOAA via AP)

Dennis Feltgen, a National Hurricane Center meteorologist in Miami, said Dorian may grow in size and could land anywhere from South Florida to South Carolina on Sunday or Monday.

“This will be a large storm approaching the Southeast,” he said.

Men board up a shop's windows ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Men board up a shop’s windows ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

A hurricane tropical storm warning was in effect for Puerto Rico, with Dorian expected to dump 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of rain with isolated amounts of 8 inches (20 centimeters).

It’s a forecast that worries many in Puerto Rico because blue tarps still cover some 30,000 homes nearly two years after Hurricane Maria. The island’s 3.2 million inhabitants also depend on an unstable power grid that remains prone to outages since it was destroyed by Maria, a Category 4 storm.

Ramonita Torres, a thin, stooped, 74-year-old woman lives by herself in the impoverished, flood-prone neighborhood of Las Monjas in the capital of San Juan. She was still trying to rebuild the home she nearly lost after Maria but was not able to secure the pieces of zinc that now serve as her roof.

People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

“There’s no money for that,” she said, shaking her head.

A reported 23,000 customers were without power across Puerto Rico by early Wednesday afternoon, according to Ángel Figueroa, president of a union that represents power workers.

Police said an 80-year-old man in the northern town of Bayamón died on Wednesday after he fell trying to climb up to his roof to clear it of debris ahead of the storm.

Jorge Ortiz works to tie down his roof as he prepares for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian, in the Martín Peña neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. The 50-year-old construction worker was taking no chances as Dorian approached Puerto Rico on Tuesday and threatened to brush past the island's southwest coast at near-hurricane strength. (AP Photo/Gianfranco Gaglione)
Jorge Ortiz works to tie down his roof as he prepares for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian, in the Martín Peña neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. The 50-year-old construction worker was taking no chances as Dorian approached Puerto Rico on Tuesday and threatened to brush past the island’s southwest coast at near-hurricane strength. (AP Photo/Gianfranco Gaglione)

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is still struggling to recover from hurricanes Irma and Maria, officials were reporting power outages and light rain by 1:30 p.m. EDT.

“Winds have picked up significantly. We’re starting to get some of those heavier gusts,” the governor’s spokesman, Richard Motta, said in a telephone interview.

Dorian earlier had been projected to brush the western part of the U.S. territory and the change in the storm’s course caught many off guard in the tiny island of Vieques just east of Puerto Rico, a popular tourist destination that now lies in Dorian’s path.

Men prep a local for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Men prep a local for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

“I’m in shock,” Vilma Santana said, adding that she’s relieved it’s not a hurricane. “Thank God it’s a storm.”

Trump sent a tweet assuring that “We are tracking closely tropical storm Dorian as it heads, as usual, to Puerto Rico. FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job.”

People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Although top government officials in Puerto Rico said they were prepared for the storm and had sufficient equipment, a couple of mayors, including those in the western region, said they did not have enough generators or shelters that were properly set up.

People drink beer on a patio before the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People drink beer on a patio before the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

José Ortiz, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority, acknowledged that the distribution system still has weak areas and could “suffer” under winds of 50 to 60 mph. However, he stressed the agency has the needed inventory, including more than 120,000 lights, 23,000 poles and 7,400 transformers.

But Freddyson Martínez, vice president of a power workers’ union, told The Associated Press that while the electric grid has improved in some areas, he worries about a lack of power line workers and post-Maria fixes that include lines affixed to palm trees.

The island’s transportation secretary acknowledged that crews are still rebuilding roads damaged or blocked by Maria, including more than 1,000 that remain blocked by that storm’s landslides.

People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
People arrive to a private harbor to move boats away for protection ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian in Boqueron, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez urged those living in flood-prone areas or under a blue tarp to move into one of the island’s 360 shelters.

Officials also said public schools and government offices would remain closed through at least Thursday.

“We learned our lesson quite well after Maria,” Vázquez said. “We are going to be much better prepared.”

Tropical Storm Dorian threatened Puerto Rico with a direct hit on Wednesday, as forecasters said it made a last-minute shift in its path and could reach near-hurricane strength in its approach to the U.S. territory. (Aug. 28)
Tropical Storm Dorian threatened Puerto Rico with a direct hit on Wednesday, as forecasters said it made a last-minute shift in its path and could reach near-hurricane strength in its approach to the U.S. territory. (Aug. 28)

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. closed schools and government offices and said he would implement a curfew until Thursday, adding that officials have opened shelters and prepared sandbags in all three islands.

“The main threat in this storm is the water,” he said in a conference call early Wednesday. “We still have a lot of vulnerable people in the territory.”

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Erin formed well off the U.S. East Coast on Tuesday night, and the National Hurricane Service said the storm was forecast to move northward over the open Atlantic with no immediate threat to land.

Tropical Storm Dorian was approaching the Caribbean early Tuesday. Forecasters say the storm could brush by Puerto Rico as a Category 1 Hurricane late Wednesday before striking the southeast corner of the Dominican Republic early Thursday. (Aug. 27)
Tropical Storm Dorian was approaching the Caribbean early Tuesday. Forecasters say the storm could brush by Puerto Rico as a Category 1 Hurricane late Wednesday before striking the southeast corner of the Dominican Republic early Thursday. (Aug. 27)

It was about 470 miles (760 kilometers) west-northwest of Bermuda and 190 miles (305 kilometers) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph).

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