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Islanders breathe a sigh of relief

Hurricane Felix does far less damage than expected on Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.

September 03, 2007|From the Associated Press

ORANJESTAD, ARUBA — Hurricane Felix strengthened into a Category 5 storm Sunday after it toppled trees and flooded homes on a cluster of Dutch islands and churned its way into the open waters of the Caribbean.

Felix lashed Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire with rain and heavy winds, causing scattered power outages. But residents expressed relief that it did far less damage than feared as the storm's outer bands just grazed the tiny islands.

"Thankfully, we didn't get a very bad storm. My dog slept peacefully through the night," said Bonaire medical administrator Siomara Albertus, who waited out the storm in her home.

The storm forced tens of thousands of tourists and residents on the three islands to remain in their homes and hotels, stocked up with water, flashlights and emergency provisions.

In Curacao, about a dozen homes were flooded.

In Aruba, there was little visible damage, although at least one catamaran snapped off its mooring and a house was damaged by a downed tree. A northern settlement had a temporary power outage.

Many Bonaire residents had prepared for the worst, installing storm shutters and hauling their boats ashore, but the storm's winds left little damage.

On Saturday, Felix brought heavy rain and strong winds to Grenada as a tropical storm, ripping roofs off at least two homes and destroying a popular concert venue.

No injuries were reported, and the Grenadian government was still assessing the damage Sunday.

Felix, packing maximum sustained winds of 165 mph, was expected to skirt Honduras' northern coastline Tuesday and plow into Belize on Wednesday as a huge hurricane.

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