Tropical Storm Elsa Batters Caribbean, Leaving 3 Dead Amid Flooding, Mudslide Fears

Tropical Storm Elsa is continuing to head towards Florida after heavy winds and flooding caused destruction in the Caribbean, leaving at least three dead.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest update that Elsa will pass near the Florida Keys on Tuesday morning. It is currently traveling north from Cuba at around 12 miles per hour.

The storm is currently causing winds of up to 60 miles per hour, with stronger gusts forecast as Elsa moves inland over Florida into Wednesday.

Storm surges were recorded in the southern coastal areas of Cuba, with more than 100,000 people were evacuated for their safety on Monday.

The storm has already killed at least three people after battering several Caribbean islands. One person was killed in St Lucia, while a 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman died in separate incidents on Saturday in the Dominican Republic after walls collapsed on them, according to the country's Emergency Operations Center.

The NHC warned that between five and 10 inches of rainfall could fall in parts of Cuba on Monday, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches also predicted in some areas, resulting in "significant" flash flooding and mudslides.

"The rain is coming behind the center so the fact it is moving out to sea along the northern coast between Havana and Mayabeque ... does not mean the rain is over," Jose Rubiera, Cuba's best-known meteorologist, said on state television.

There have so far been no reports of any major damage in Cuba as a result of the storm.

"The wind is blowing hard and there is a lot of rain. Some water is getting under the door of my house. In the yard the level is high, but it did not get into the house," Lázaro Ramón Sosa, who lives in the town of Cienega de Zapata, told The Associated Press

Further flash flooding is also expected across the Cayman Islands on Tuesday as potentially five inches of rain is expected to fall.

The NHC also warned that up to eight inches of rainfall could hit the Florida peninsula through Wednesday, which may result in considerable flash and urban flooding, along with moderate river flooding in places.

On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis expanded the existing state of emergency to cover more than dozen counties currently at risk from Elsa, including Columbia, Dixie, Jefferson, Lafayette, Suwannee and Taylor.

"While we continue to provide resources to support the response at Surfside, impacts from Elsa will begin affecting the Florida Keys and portions of southern Florida as early as Monday," DeSantis said in a statement.

"All Floridians in the potential path of this storm need to prepare for the risk of isolated tornadoes, storm surge, heavy rainfall and flash flooding."

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A man records a video of the strong waves during the passage of storm Elsa at the Malecón in Santo Domingo, on July 3, 2021. ERIKA SANTELICES//AFP/Getty Images