Nearly 38,000 people were forced to leave their homes by flooding after Hurricane Irene dumped heavy rain on the Dominican Republic and three are confirmed dead, according to the Listin Diario newspaper.

The vast majority of evacuees are staying with relatives and friends, according to the Emergency Operations Center, or COE, which said that much of the country continues to feel the effects of the storm.

Rains and flooding have damaged more than 2,200 residences and effectively cut off 85 communities.

The COE urged people to refrain from trying to cross rain-swollen rivers and streams and said that further evacuations are being carried out in some areas, including parts of Santo Domingo.

Now headed toward the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast, Irene is currently a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, with maximum sustained winds of 185 kph (115 mph), the National Hurricane Center said in a bulletin issued at 1500 GMT.

The storm could strengthen to Category 4 as it moves over the warm waters of the Caribbean, the NHC said.

Follow us on
Like us at