Local News

Islanders, Yachters, Batten Down for Hurricane...

Posted September 5, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Yachters anchored vessels, drivers jammed gas stations and people rushed to buy emergency supplies Friday as Tropical Storm Erika strengthened into a hurricane packing 75 mph winds.

The hurricane was expected to hit the northeastern Caribbean - Antigua, Montserrat, Barbuda, Nevis, St. Kitts, Anguilla, St. Barthelemy and Dutch and French St. Martin - by Saturday afternoon. Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands could see hurricane conditions by Sunday morning.

``I'm scared,'' Irene Riley said on Montserrat, where shelters already were overcrowded with people forced from their homes by eruptions from the island's volcano. ``I'm just prepared to get rid of some of my personal stuff and head out of Montserrat.''

Friday evening, Erika was about 180 miles east of Antigua, moving west-northwest at about 13 mph and packing winds near 75 mph that could get stronger. Its motion was expected to continue through Saturday morning, placing its center near the northeastern Leeward Islands.

Antigua and Barbuda ordered schools to close at noon, and residents boarded up their homes.

Authorities in Anguilla, citing damage caused by storms last year, said they would turn off the island's power supply if winds gusted to 50 mph. That would deprive the British colony of television coverage of Princess Diana's funeral.

By MICHELLE FAUL,Associated Press Writer Copyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.