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story.lead_photo.caption Irma Torres walks with her grandson Tuesday as they leave their home in the oceanfront community of El Negro in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, in advance of Tropical Storm Karen.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico --Authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported limited power failures, flooding and landslides as Tropical Storm Karen swirled away from the northeast Caribbean early today.

Some schools and government offices were expected to reopen in the region with the exception of those in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's San Juan office, said heavy rains would keep affecting Puerto Rico's southern and eastern region until shortly before dawn today.

Crews also temporarily closed some coastal roads in southeastern Puerto Rico that became flooded after Karen hit the island Tuesday.

Forecasters warned of more rain showers for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands throughout today, but those were expected to dissipate by Thursday as Karen headed north. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said it was expected to stay well east of the Bahamas, which was hit by Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 1.

As the storm approached, Puerto Ricans were shaken from their beds late Monday by a magnitude-6.0 earthquake that hit in the Atlantic near the island at a shallow depth of 6 miles. Three aftershocks, of magnitude 4.7 and 4.6, followed within less than an hour.

No significant damage was reported, said Carlos Acevedo, director of Puerto Rico's emergency management agency, adding that the concern now was how much rain Karen would drop on the region. The National Hurricane Center said it could deliver 3 to 6 inches with isolated amounts of 10 inches.

Up to 29,000 customers in Puerto Rico were left without power at one point, and heavy rains pelted the southeast coastal town of Yabucoa, where 69-year-old retiree Victor Ortiz huddled in his home with his wife.

"Every year the storms are stronger and more frequent," he said, adding that he worried about landslides because he lives in a mountainous region.

The National Guard, which was activated Monday by Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez, carried out a last-minute evacuation of a weeks-old baby from the neighboring island of Vieques, which has been without a hospital since Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. Lt. Col. Paul Dahlen said in a phone interview that the baby was sick and would be taken to a hospital ahead of the storm.

Karen was about 85 miles northeast of San Juan late Tuesday and was moving north-northeast at 14 mph. It had maximum sustained winds increased in the afternoon to 45 mph, with some strengthening expected in upcoming days.

Roberto Garcia, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service's San Juan office, said that some towns in the eastern part of Puerto Rico would likely be hit with moderate to serious flooding, especially those next to mountains.

Vazquez urged people in flood-prone areas to seek shelter, with more than 30 people reported in shelters by Tuesday morning.

The island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, which hit as a Category 4 storm two years ago and is estimated to have caused more than $100 billion in damage. More than 25,000 homes still have blue tarps for roofs, and the electric grid remains unstable.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Jerry was expected to pass near Bermuda today. It was about 235 miles west-southwest of Bermuda and had sustained winds of 45 mph as it moved north-northeast at 5 mph.

A Section on 09/25/2019

Print Headline: Karen drenches Puerto Rico, churns off


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